Title: The Last Reunion
Author: Kayte Nunn
Published: March 31st 2021
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Genres: Fiction, Historical
Rating: 4.5 stars
Five women come together at a New Year’s Eve party after decades apart, in this thrilling story of desire, revenge and courage, based on a brave group of Australian and British WWII servicewomen
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.
Inspired by the heroic women who served in the ‘forgotten war’ in Burma, The Last Reunion is a heartbreaking love story and mystery by the international bestselling author of The Botanist’s Daughter and The Silk House.
The bonds of war, lasting trauma, bravery, friendship and passion unites the latest historical tale from international bestselling author Kayte Nunn. There is a strong sense of comradery that runs through this heroic story that helps to elevate The Last Reunion to very high proportions.
Opening on the eve of a new century, a group of five women unite in their shared experiences of war and courage, reflecting on a challenging time in their past. As we travel back in time to the tumultuous wartime year of 1945, we meet Bea, Bubbles, Joy, Lucy and Plum. This group of brave and resilient women are part of the Fourteenth Army. This group were involved in a forgotten war, deep in Burma’s jungle surrounds. From attempting to successfully run a mobile canteen and negotiate the dangerous roads of Burma, along with avoiding enemy fire, the women put their lives on the lines for the sake of this deadly battle. The impact of these experiences will continue to follow the women for years to come. Back in 1999, an assistant to an art dealer encounters a widow hoping to sell her husband’s art collection, but in viewing the collection the art dealer finds more than she bargained for. The art dealer’s visit signals the dramatic opening of a long-held secret, which can be traced back to over fifty years ago. How will this story unfold and what age-old mystery will be revealed?
Kayte Nunn is an author that I hold in high regard. I always look forward to a new release from this top ten bestselling author. Last year I was captivated by Kayte Nunn’s The Silk House. While another backlist title by Nunn, The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant, has remained on my all-time favourite book list. So, suffice to say, I was eagerly waiting The Last Reunion and I enjoyed it very much.
Delicately sewing together a wartime narrative thread with a timepiece set in 1976, along with a visit to more recent times in 1999, The Last Reunion covers a expansive territory. Dual timeline and multiple timeline narratives are my absolute favourite kind of novel and this one did not disappoint. I was impressed by Nunn’s ability to shift in and out of each timeline interchange. The book seemed to take on its own pace and flow. Nunn ensures that she never leaves her reader adrift and we are always acutely aware of the time, place and happenings of the era in which we are situated. This is tricky technique to master, but Nunn is now a old hand at delivering this style of narrative.
Nunn is an author passionately dedicated to her research and this is very much evident in The Last Reunion. I was amazed by the forgotten story of the lost women of the Fourteenth Army. It is vital that we dredge up these absent stories and place them in the spotlight via engaging narratives, such as The Last Reunion. I am grateful to Kayte Nunn to drawing my attention to an aspect of the war that I was not previously aware of, despite having read such a wide range of literature around the WWII conflict. I valued the time that I spent with each keynote member of the group that gave up their lives so selflessly during the Burma conflict. These were incredibly testing times for the women, especially in a physical sense. We also learn of the emotional wounds of war from viewpoint of the women decades later. This is a time that continues to haunt them, for good reasons. It was heartbreaking to read.
With plenty of mystery, intrigue, history and a speckle of romance, The Last Reunion has plenty to offer. What I valued the most about reading Kayte Nunn’s latest effort was that this powerful story provided me with a lasting reminder and appreciation of the efforts of our servicewomen during all conflicts of the Second World War. The Last Reunion is an important tale that highlights the continued strength of female friendships, bonds and self-sacrifice. I give Kayte’s Nunn’s new book my full recommendation.
The Last Reunion by Kayte Nunn is published by Hachette Australia on March 31st 2021. $32.99.
To learn more about the author of The Last Reunion, Kayte Nunn visit here.
*Thanks is extended to Hachette Australia for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.
The Last Reunion is book #50 of the 2021 Australian Women Writers Challenge