Review copies of Isobel Scharen’s A BETTER LIFE are available now
Surviving the fall of Singapore
Isobel Scharen’s dramatic debut novel, A Better Life, is an epic book set in the 1940s during the Battle of Singapore when the vulnerable British stronghold surrendered to Japanese occupation and thousands became prisoners of war.
Against the authentic backdrop of this infamous invasion, A Better Life centres around Ada, a young Englishwoman in Singapore who is set to marry Michael, a well-educated Anglo-Indian from a wealthy family. Ada’s hopes and dreams are dashed when the Japanese invade Singapore and she is caught in the brutal grip of occupation. This multi-dimensional book vividly portrays Singapore’s fate at this point in its history but is wonderfully personalised by Ada’s own experiences and her journey to survive.
In Part One, she initially enjoys a life of luxury but this is abruptly followed by a campaign of terror as the invasion takes hold of the country. For Ada and her family, the turmoil intensifies when she is imprisoned in Changi jail. Ada is thrust into despair with little hope of a future. The author skilfully describes the shocking onslaught of war through Ada’s courageous experience of prison and the forced separation she and her family are compelled to endure.
In Part Two, the settings shift. With the hope that peacetime promises, Ada decides to leave Singapore, emigrating to New Zealand to seek a better life. Once there, however, she faces a different culture and a new set of challenges to settle into an unknown country with her mixed-race daughter. The author expertly criss-crosses between these contrasting countries, and the challenges and cultural clashes that emigration brings.
A Better Life is an incredible story of the historic invasion of Singapore, its aftermath and its impact on one woman as she fights to survive the throes of war before breaking away towards a safer future on foreign soil. Superbly written, this absorbing book, with its historic footing, attracts readers towards Ada. Here is a heroine on an uplifting journey to survive Singapore’s greatest battle and forge a better life for herself and her family in New Zealand:
“We must put the past behind us and look forward to a better life,” she said…”
A Better Life is available to order from Amazon (www.amazon.co.uk).
“A beautifully written and moving story which both evocatively captures the time and places in which it’s set and also poignantly resonates with now… It’s a story of hope for those who feel they don’t belong. Loved It!”
“This is a novel that both holds the attention and also leaves the reader with a lot to think about. A warmly-recommended and very original take on World War II and its legacy.”
“A book that absorbs the reader and carries you along with the action.”
“It is extremely well-written, developed sure-footedly and the characters are superbly observed. The ending is particularly effective, optimistic despite everything Ada had been through, and warming.”
“In this striking book, we are let to consider what is ‘a better life’ through other universal questions that become personal for Ada and thought-provoking for the reader.”
Price: £8.42 (Paperback); £5.34 (Kindle Edition)
Published: M-Y Books Ltd (January 2020)
About the Author
Isobel Scharen was born in Singapore, where she was adopted by a mixed-race couple. She was educated in New Zealand before settling in England. She now divides her time between London and Bristol. A Better Life is her first novel.