Family secrets

Family intrigue is often the best motivation behind a good book and when Julie Reagen discovers she has a long-lost aunt, a trip to Malaya where it all started is a good place to find the truth.

The Plantation is Di Morrisey’s 18th novel and looks set to follow the success of those which have gone previously by becoming a best-seller. Finding inspiration from her regular trips to Malaysia in the 70s, Di returned in 2009 to research The Plantation. These descriptions of the culture, people and landscape set the scene nicely for those who have never been to Malaysia.

The tale is of two Australian sisters who reside on a rubber plantation in Malaysia in the 1930s. A series of events leads to the sisters become estranged, reluctant to talk about what set them on their separate paths. The sisters carve out very different lives for themselves during the halcyon pre-war days in Malaya to the post-war Communist insurgency.

When Julie finds a book written by her great-aunt, Bette, about her life in Borneo in the 1970s, she pushes her grandmother for information and is intrigued when she refuses to talk about her long-lost sister. Estranged for 60 years, Julie believes there is more to this story than a tiff between two sisters.

In a bid to unravel the tale of family loves, deaths and tragedy, Julie confronts the challenges of modern Malaysia and travels back to the plantation founded by her great-grandfather a hundred years ago.

The outcome is the discovery of her grandmother’s shocking secret.

Di Morrisey
Pan Macmillan Australia
RRP: $32.99