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I found it very hard to put down – the story enthralled me. When I find a book like this, no matter how many pages or how small the print is, I just mow through the pages.
The story starts in New Zealand: Christchurch to be precise. Hannah arrived in New Zealand for her OE from Portland, USA, working as a barmaid. She then met Alexander Louis Mason, who is close to Hannah’s father’s age. They have two small children, Liam and then Amy. Alex, a businessman of some wealth, decides to move the family to Fiji to start a new business venture. After being granted a 7-year-residency, they rent out their house in Christchurch to start a new life in Fiji. Fiji has been in some turmoil because of unrest and the government being over thrown by Brigadier Rabuka.
Alex loves the South Sea Islands and as a result they have, as a family, holidayed in most of them: Samoa, Rarotonga, Tahiti and Fiji, on a number of occasions. Alex has promised the Fijian government he is going to bring much needed jobs and tourism back to Fiji by building an underwater aquarium. Tourists fled Fiji after the coup and even with cut-price flights and packages they are slow to come back to the holiday paradise.
The family arrives in Nadi just 5 months after the coup. The airport is lined with armed soldiers. Kaikoso Island, where they are headed to set up their base, has been under European ownership since whaling days, and is largely undeveloped. Their home for the next 7 years was to be a house on four hectares of beach front land.
The story that unfolds is in one sense fascinating and in another shocking. We discover that Alex is planning to separate Hannah through whatever means he can from their children. The political turmoil in Fiji helps his cause because of a corrupt and archaic legal system. Mental and physical cruelty are part of his ploy to rid himself of his wife and gain complete control of their children. My heart pounded at times for Hannah, willing her to either shoot Alex or somehow find a way to win and get out of this tawdry ugly marriage, fighting for her own life and fighting for the life of her children.
The friendships that Hannah makes as a result of what unfolds are what help hold her up during the roughest times. These friends are Fijian and Fijian Indian, as well as ex-pats like herself.
Sue McCauley in my opinion is a genius – I just love the way she uses words to paint a very realistic picture. The pain and outrage I felt on Hannah’s behalf felt very real at times.
Reviewed by Christine Frayling
Tropic of Guile
by Sue McCauley
Published by Xlibris
ISBN Hardback: 9781483683195
ISBN Paperback: 9781483683188
ISBN13 eBook: 9781483683201