Olivia & Sophia

Author: Rosie Milne 

Language: English

Summary: Set in London, Java, Sumatra, Penang, Malacca and Singapore, this historical novel takes the form of two diaries of Sir Stamford Raffles’ two wives: Olivia and Sophia. When Raffles sets sail from the cold, damp confines of Georgian London to make his name and fortune in the tropics, he takes with him his new wife, Olivia, a raffish beauty with a scandalous past. She infatuates both his closest friend, a poet, and one of his bitterest rivals, a soldier. Raffles sees what is going on, but he turns a blind eye – or so hopes Olivia. After Olivia’s death, and back on leave in London, Raffles, a man once again in need of a wife, makes a practical marriage. Sophia, no beauty, but curious and intelligent, embraces the opportunity of an exciting life abroad. Marriage brings her great joy but also great sadness. Her life with Raffles becomes a catalogue of loss: of their children, of their possessions, of their savings. And all the while, Raffles, driven and talented, manoeuvres at the centre of global networks of power, trade, politics and diplomacy. His scheming culminates, to his eventual glory, with the founding of a new trading post: Singapore.

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Mad dogs, Englishmen, and the errant anthropologist: Fieldwork in Malaysia

Author: Douglas Rayback

Language: English

Summary: According to Raybeck, the solitary dictum that best characterizes fieldwork is “Things go awry.” In this spirited account of his time spent in Southeast Asia, Raybeck describes several adventures and misadventures involving field research, as well as the understanding, humility and bruises that these experiences leave behind.

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The Rice Mother

Author: Rani Manicka

Language: English

Summary: At the age of fourteen, Lakshmi leaves behind her childhood among the mango trees of Ceylon for married life across the ocean in Malaysia, and soon finds herself struggling to raise a family in a country that is, by turns, unyielding and amazing, brutal and beautiful. Giving birth to a child every year until she is nineteen, Lakshmi becomes a formidable matriarch, determined to secure a better life for her daughters and sons. From the Japanese occupation during World War II to the torture of watching some of her children succumb to life’s most terrible temptations, she rises to face every new challenge with almost mythic strength. Dreamy and lyrical, told in the alternating voices of the men and women of this amazing family, The Rice Mother gorgeously evokes a world where small pleasures offset unimaginable horrors, where ghosts and gods walk hand in hand. Source: amazon.com

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