Book Review: A Painter in Penage 3.5 Stars! ( Historical Fiction) @clarefly @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours

About the Book:

Sixteen-year-old Jasmine Barrington hates everything about living in Kenya and longs to return to the island of Penang in British colonial Malaya where she was born. Expulsion from her Nairobi convent school offers a welcome escape – the chance to stay with her parents’ friends, Mary and Reggie Hyde-Underwood on their Penang rubber estate.

But this is 1948 and communist insurgents are embarking on a reign of terror in what becomes the Malayan Emergency. Jasmine unearths a shocking secret as her own life is put in danger. Throughout the turmoil, her one constant is her passion for painting.

From the international best-selling and award-winning author of The Pearl of Penang, this is a dramatic coming of age story, set against the backdrop of a tropical paradise torn apart by civil war.

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3.5 Enjoyable Stars!

Thank you to Love Books Group Book Tours for my review copy, for an honest review. All opinions are my own. I was really drawn to the blurb of this story, and the part of the world it’s set in. I love, love, love historical fiction! The author has a wonderful way of painting the scenery of Africa and the contrast of Malaya, I really enjoyed this. I found the main character Jasmine to be a very deeply ‘sad’ young lady, trying to find her way in the world, and fit in. Painting seemed to be the medicine she needed to move forward. She was developed well. All the characters were engaging to read and enjoyable to get to know. I found them all well developed. I really enjoyed learning about the history of this part of the world in Malaya, how the Japanese and British really took over the land of the natives.

I found the story-line for the most part also very enjoyable, but the pace was a little slow for me. Which would be fine normally, I don’t mind slow burn if the story is unfolding as I read. With this story, considering how much happens, as I read I craved the pace and story to pick up. Or more directions and turns to Jasmine’s story earlier either one! The action happens around 60-70 percent in, and I found myself ‘waiting’ for something to happen or the story to move in a new, or exciting direction up to this point. When the story starts to pick up pace ( no spoilers) it was enjoyable, and ended how I imagined it would. Jasmine seemed to find her true love (painting), and goes for it. There’s also a few heart-string tugging moments too.

Overall as a first time reader of this author’s work I would give this novel 3.5 stars, it was an okay, enjoyable, heart-warming read. I would read more of her books and hope for more pace, because it is clear to see that she is a brilliant historical fiction writer. I recommend it to anyone who loves historical fiction, stories set in exotic places, distant lands, and those who love sweet, slow burn books, with ‘coming of age’ themes. This would be perfect .

Meet The Author

Historical novelist Clare Flynn is a former global marketing director and business owner. She now lives in Eastbourne on the south coast of England and most of her time these days is spent writing her novels – when she’s not gazing out of her windows at the sea.

Clare is the author of eleven novels and a short story collection. Her books deal with displacement – her characters are wrenched away from their comfortable existences and forced to face new challenges – often in outposts of an empire which largely disappeared after WW2.

Her latest novel, Prisoner From Penang, was published on 17th April 2020. It is set in South East Asia during the Japanese occupation in World War Two.

Clare’s novels often feature places she knows well and she does extensive research to build the period and geographic flavour of her books. A Greater World – 1920s Australia; Kurinji Flowers – pre-Independence India; Letters from a Patchwork Quilt – nineteenth century industrial England and the USA; The Green Ribbons – the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth century in rural England, The Chalky Sea – World War II England (and Canada) and its sequels The Alien Corn and The Frozen River – post WW2 Canada. She has also published a collection of short stories – both historical and contemporary, A Fine Pair of Shoes and Other Stories.

Fluent in Italian, she loves spending time in Italy. In her spare time she likes to quilt, paint and travel as often and as widely as possible. She is an active member of the Historical Novel Society, the Romantic Novelists Association, The Society of Authors, NINC and the Alliance of Independent Authors.

Get a free copy of Clare’s exclusive short story collection, A Fine Pair of Shoes, at

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