War would bring them together, but would it ultimately tear them apart?
Burma, 1945. Bea, Plum, Bubbles, Joy and Lucy: in search of adventure, attached to the Fourteenth Army, fighting a forgotten war in the jungle. Assigned to run a mobile canteen, navigating treacherous roads and dodging hostile gunfire, they become embroiled in life-threatening battles of their own.
Oxford, 1976. A woman slips into a museum and steals several rare Japanese netsuke, including the famed fox-girl. Despite the offer of a considerable reward, these tiny, exquisitely detailed carvings are never seen again.
London and Galway, 1999. On the eve of the new millennium, Olivia, assistant to an art dealer, meets Beatrix, an elderly widow who wishes to sell her late husband’s collection of Japanese art. Olivia travels with Beatrix to a New Year’s Eve party, deep in the Irish countryside, where friendships will be tested as secrets kept for more than fifty years are spilled.
Last year, bestselling author Kayte Nunn delighted Better Reading readers with The Silk House, a top-ten bestselling story of a mysterious boarding school sheltering a centuries-old secret. Her previous novels, The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durant and The Botanist’s Daughter, are also firm favourites here in the Better Reading office. Now she returns with The Last Reunion, a thrilling story of desire, revenge and courage, based on a brave group of Australian and British WWII servicewomen.
In the Author’s Note, Nunn said she was inspired to write The Last Reunion after learning about the heroic members of The Women’s Auxiliary Service, who were recruited to serve alongside the soldiers during the Burma Campaign of WWII, also known as ‘The Forgotten War’. Nunn describes these women as ‘the forgotten women of the forgotten war’, and this is certainly true – though I’ve read widely about this period, I had never heard of the Wasbies before reading this. But that all changes In The Last Reunion. Here, Nunn pays homage to these servicewomen and finally gives them the voice they deserve.
In The Silk House, Nunn shifted back and forth between multiple timelines to weave together the story of three fascinating women. She deploys the same technique here, deftly weaving together the stories of Bea, Plum, Bubbles, Joy and Lucy in 1945 with that of Olivia in 1999. In doing this, Nunn is able to explore the development of these incredible women across the decades, as well as offer a tribute to the enduring power of female friendship.
Meticulously researched, vividly imagined and incredibly inspiring, The Last Reunion is a powerful story of friendship, resilience and courage. It is yet another excellent historical novel from Kayte Nunn, cementing her position at the top of this genre.