Author: Isabel Wolff
Poignant and fearless, Shadows Over Paradise proves that memories encase us, for good or bad, and must be spoken in order for the shadows to enlighten us.
Jenni Clark has been running from the death of her 5 year old brother her entire life. Her occupation is that of a ghostwriter: Jenni articulates and writes the lives of other people in her attempt to escape her own. But when her relationship with Rick, a man she loves and who loves her, starts to fragment because she refuses to have children due to her early tragedy and self blame, she strangely agrees to return back to where the accident where her brother died occurred, a small coastal town in England called Polvarth.
Klara will be 80 in a few months and her family has contacted Jenni to write Klara’s memoirs. And Klara lives in Polvarth. After considering refusing in order to remain in denial of her past, Jenni agrees and both women discover the daunting secrets that have created the shadow of sadness and lack of connection that both women have embraced.
For Klara too has had to live with a forbidden secret and has lost her younger brother in death.
As Jenni runs from Rick’s need to have children, Klara hides behind the small farm where she feeds people organic food and exotic jams. Klara has made her living from her farm her entire lifetime, but her choice has come from her past. As a child, Klara and her parents and brother were assigned to prison camps by the Japanese the years of the Second World War, on the Pacific island paradise of Java. As both women stumble and falter together, they form a bond, one young and tortured, the other old and lost with the burden of never having told anyone about her demons.
As Wolff intertwines the horror of young Klara’s life in a Japanese war camp, Jenni writes ferociously on the memoir and begins to trust Klara and her courage. Jenni finally tells her the truth about her brother, an accident that the townspeople have spoken about for years, and realizes that Klara was the woman from the tea hut who kept her while her mother was at the hospital with her little brother as he died.
A beautiful psychological slant in a novel that believes in revelation, psychological as well as physical horror, and a second chance. The historical revelations are genuine and well researched and written as we lay witness to the horrors of war, both internal and external.
Ratings are based on a 5-star scale
Overall: 3.5 out of 5
Review by Broad “A”
We received a copy of this title for our book review. All opinions are our own
Shadows Over Paradise: A Novel is available on Amazon.com as well as booksellers nationwide.