Book review: The Girl from Lace Island by Joanna Rees

The Girl from Lace Island byJoanna Rees
The Girl from Lace Island byJoanna Rees

An exotic island lying in the glittering Arabian Sea, spotless white beaches and acres of lush coconut groves…

Sounds like the perfect place for a getaway, but gorgeous Lace Island is awash with dark secrets and lies that bind together two women from two generations, destined to meet on a dramatic and emotional collision course.

Make room in your holiday luggage this summer for Joanna Rees’ sizzling tale of romance, adventure, intrigue and betrayal inspired by a family holiday to Kerala, a state on India’s tropical Malabar Coast, famed for its stunning palm-lined beaches and abundant wildlife.

Brimming with glitz, glamour and some hard-hitting grit, The Girl from Lace Island sweeps readers away to some of the world’s most seductive locations whilst delivering a captivating story about two lives mysteriously linked to a faraway island.

In 1989, fun-loving fourteen-year-old Leila could not be happier. She has grown up on Lace Island, an exotic location which was inherited by her mother Bibi. Leila lives in the old plantation house with her mother and stepfather Chan, and spends her days in the company of local boy Rasa.

Near the beach are Bibi’s luxury bungalows where super-rich, and often famous, guests fly in to spend relaxing, private holidays away from intrusive camera lenses and where no behaviour or demand is deemed too outrageous.

But Leila’s idyllic life comes to an abrupt end when her mother is persuaded by one of her guests to send her daughter away for an education at a cold English boarding school. The teenager feels friendless, bullied and too foreign to ever fit in and soon she’s desperate to get back to her family and her beloved island.

But in her absence, Leila’s paradise has changed beyond all recognition and the life she once adored is now just a memory. Worse still, everyone and everything she loves is in terrible danger.

In 2016, Jess has spent her childhood in orphanages and lives in a depressing tower block in south London. She does kickboxing to channel her inner anger and dreams of far-off places, of white sandy beaches and warm tropical seas.

When Jess gets her longed-for job as airline cabin crew, all those dreams suddenly appear to be coming true, especially when she is swept off her feet by the handsome and charismatic millionaire Blaise who is a first class passenger on a long-haul flight to Miami.

But Jess has a troubled past, and her present is about to become complicated and dangerous when Blaise asks her to marry him.

These two women, both of their lives scarred by disaster and betrayal, will set out on a mission to discover the truth about Lace Island, but will their search for paradise be a price too high to pay?

Rees, a bestselling author who teaches creative writing in schools and libraries, works her trademark escapist magic in this addictive, fast-paced story which is perfectly formed and carefully crafted for sun loungers everywhere.

Sit back and enjoy…

(Pan, paperback, £7.99)