Finding Maria by Dawn Farnham

I received this book from

Novel set in Singapore in the 1950’s and earlier     

My rating:  4 out of 5


Annie returns to Singapore in 1950 to search for her baby, who had been given away (without her knowledge)  5 years before.  A story of changing times in Singapore and the Finding Mariacontrasting lives of ex-pats and locals, with thought provoking glimpses into the hardships of living through those times.

Alongside Annie’s fictional search for her child is a factual account of a custody battle for another child.  Should that child stay with her Malay foster mother, or be returned to her Dutch birth parents; a fascinating story.  Meanwhile Annie finds some friends to help her  search for her own child and tries to improve the lives of some of the locals she meets. 

The politics of British rule in Malaya and Singapore, and  the occupation of Singapore by the Japanese, are all drawn into this novel about life in Singapore after, and during, the war.  Alongside the main story runs the true court case of whether a child is better staying with foster parents, or being returned to birth parents (and a religion) she has never known.

I found the start of this book difficult going.  The language in the first chapter was too descriptive for my taste, however as the book progressed so did my liking for it.   There were many, many words of (I assume) Singapore origin, which I did not know, so it might have been easier (and less irritating) to read this book via an e-reader.  I am very glad I finished the book, though at times my attention drifted. 

A 4* rating from me as, by the end of the book, this history of the Japanese occupation was very interesting, as was the factual custody court case that is a theme running through the book.  There are plenty of places within Singapore mentioned, and the history of Singapore at this terrible time is well described. Definitely worth reading for anyone interested in the history of Singapore.   Also plenty of themes here to make for a lively discussion for book clubs. 

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