Review: The Last Reunion by Kayte Nunn

 


Title: The Last Reunion

Author: Kayte Nunn

Published: 30th March 2021, Hachette Australia 

Status: Read March 2021, courtesy Hachette

++++++

My Thoughts:

The Last Reunion is a rich and absorbing story about art, war and friendship from internationally bestselling Australian author, Kayte Nunn.

Art dealer intern Olivia Goddard is excited when she’s given the opportunity to evaluate the authenticity of a unique collection of netsuke (small three dimensional carvings traditionally used by Japanese men to secure their kimono sash) including the elusive figure known as the ‘fox-girl’. Arriving at the Wiltshire estate of its owner, Beatrix Pelham, Olivia is focused on assessing the pieces and returning to London but illness and a snow storm results in an enforced stay. Keen to learn more about the netsuke, Olivia is intrigued as Beatrix reveals how the ‘ fox-girl’ first came into her possession as a gift from her first love when they were both serving in Burma during WWII.

Employing a dual timeline, Nunn seamlessly combines historical fact and fiction that centres on the unique role women played in the ‘forgotten war’, in The Last Reunion. Around two hundred and fifty Women’s Auxiliary Service members were posted to Burma during WWII where the ‘Wasbies’, as they were known, ran canteens that catered to the troops engaged in fighting the Japanese.

In 1944, Beatrix, Plum, Bubbles, Lucy and Joy are assigned to a mobile canteen unit where they find themselves working long days, and nights, to supply soldiers with food, drink, sundries and a dance partner. I enjoyed getting to know these authentically portrayed, interesting female characters, admiring the strength and courage they displayed in such physically, and emotionally, challenging circumstances. Nunn’s vivid descriptions of the environment and the ‘Wasbies’ role in Burma is fascinating, and I appreciated the opportunity to learn more about this relatively obscure facet of wartime history.

Events related in the wartime timeline play into the later time period, as in 1999, to sell her precious collection of netsuke, Beatrix needs to prove provenance, and to do so must confront a shocking incident that occurred during her time in Burma. Fortuitously an invitation to a reunion of the women Bea once served with arrives while Olivia is at Bea’s house, and sets the scene for a long overdue reckoning.

Offering intrigue, action, and a touch of romance, the well paced plot of The Last Reunion is enough to hold any reader’s attention, though it’s the Wasbies and their role in WWII that I found most compelling. This is interesting, well crafted historical fiction that I’m happy to recommend.

++++++

Available from Hachette Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Booktopia I Amazon

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Izabel Brekilien
    Mar 31, 2021 @ 21:16:09

    Oooooh, that cover would be reason enough to grab this novel 🙂

    Like

    Reply

  2. Stephanie - Bookfever
    Mar 31, 2021 @ 22:58:58

    Duel timelines are right up my alley. I love them so much! Sounds like a really good read.

    Like

    Reply

  3. Tracey (Carpe Librum)
    Mar 31, 2021 @ 23:59:02

    I enjoyed this and published my 4 star review today as well 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  4. Helen Murdoch
    Apr 01, 2021 @ 09:41:25

    I like that this novel centers around an art object, which gives a nice focus and a way for the reader to learn as they read.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  5. Jennifer
    Apr 01, 2021 @ 11:38:42

    Great review, Shelleyrae. I really enjoyed this one as well.

    Like

    Reply

  6. Mystica
    Apr 02, 2021 @ 14:27:54

    Dual timelines, WWII and Burma. Whats not to like? Thanks for the review.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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