Reviewed by: Mojomums reviewer Sam
What they say: In December 1950, the worst riots Singapore has ever seen shut down the town for days, killing 18 people and wounding 173. Racial and religious tension had been simmering for months over the custody battle for wartime waif Maria Hertogh between her Malay Muslim foster mother and her Dutch-Catholic biological parents. In May 1950, Eurasian Annie Collins, following this case and filled with hope, returns to Singapore seeking her own lost baby Maria. As the time bomb ticks and Annie unravels the threads of her quest into increasingly dangerous territory, she finds strange recollections intruding, ones that have nothing to do with her own memories of her wartime experiences: disturbing visions and dreams which force her to doubt not just her past life, but her whole idea of who she truly is and even to question the search itself. Finding Maria is at once a mother’s quest for her child, an unravelling mystery and a journey into suppressed memory and the nature of self-delusion.
What we say: “Set in Singapore in the 1950s, the book tells the story of an Eurasian, Annie Collins, and her quest to find her only child, Maria, given away by her now deceased husband Ronald during the war. Helped by reporter Charlie, and her admirer Desmond, Annie has to unravel the mysteries of her past wartime experiences to find out what has happened to her daughter.
Alongside the plot are excerpts from the true story of the custody battle of wartime child, Maria Hertogh, and the race riots in Singapore in December 1950.
The story is about how far a mother will go to find her child and the consequences for that child. The book held my attention from the start, with the real life story of Maria Hertogh as intriguing as the fictional story. Dawn Farnham cleverly entwines the two plots and gives the reader an interesting account of life in Singapore during and after the war. It was a very enjoyable read which keeps you guessing until the very end. As well as the page turning plot, it was great to learn a little bit about Singapore’s history too!”
Finding Maria is available from many good high street book stores and online from Amazon.