Finding Maria

Previously published under the title: 'A Crowd of Twisted Things'

 

 ""Dawn's accomplished novel is a study of the brutality of war, with special regard to the experience of women, mixed-race and racism, suppressed memory and more.  You'll appreciate Dawn's evocation of a desperate Singapore under occupation, as well as what the country was like in those early post-war years, all brought to vivid life by the "immaculate research" she is known for. "

-Expat Living November 2013

Launching at the Singapore Writers' Festival 2017. Details on Facebook: dawnfarnham/author and on Twitter.

In December 1950, the worst riots Singapore had ever seen shut down the town for days, killing 18 people and wounding 173. Racial and religious tensions 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. 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.
 

The Red Thread

        'Immaculately researched' The Daily Telegraph UK

Like Chinese silk, The Red Thread is, by turns, gentle and strong, exploring a love that breaks through the divide of race and culture, a love that is both deeply physical and a marriage of souls. Set agains the backdrop of 1830s Singapore where piracy, crime, triads and tigers are commonplace, this cultural romance follows the struggle of two lovers: Zhen, once the lowliest of Chinese coolies and triad member, later chosen to marry into a Peranakan family of Baba Chinese merchants; and Charlotte, an 18-year-old Scots girl and sister of Singapore’s Chief of Police.

Two cultures bound together by invisible threads of fate yet separated by cultural taboos. In this first volume of The Straits Quartet, Dawn Farnham incorporates real figures from Singapore’s historical past and brings to life the heady atmosphere of Old Singapore, where exotic beliefs and customs clash and jostle in the struggle to make a life and create mutual understanding between peoples from different worlds.

"An exceptionally well-written novel whose descriptions and subplots concerning the land, religious beliefs, and relationships are so engagingly presented that the reader is sure to want to keep this passionate novel, which celebrates meaningful union rather than division. A beautiful story to relish on every page."

Historical Novel Society

 

"The novel feels immaculately researched, and Dawn seems to have an encyclopedic knowledge of topics as diverse as Chinese secret societies, sexual customs amongst the officers of colonial power and might, tiger attacks, what the fashionable girl was wearing in the 1830s, and how the not-so fashionable girl avoided pregnancy."

The Telegraph UK

The Shallow Seas

 

In Volume 2 of The Straits Quartet, Charlotte Macleod is nineteen, pregnant and alone in 1942. She is fleeing a scandalous liaison with her married Chinese lover, a liaison which would bring ruin on him, herself and her brother, Robert, Singapore’s Chief of Police. When Tigran Manock, forty, and the richest merchant in Batavia, capital of the Dutch East Indies, asks for her hand in marriage, the choice is no choice.

 

Through loss and pain, Charlotte will find a way to make a life with a man she does not love in a town she does not understand. Until she returns to Singapore, to the town where the man she loves waits for her, to face the hardest decision of her life.

 

The Hills of Singapore

 


In Volume 3 of The Straits Quartet, young, beautiful and wealthy widow Charlotte Macleod leaves Batavia in the 1850s and returns to Singapore for the English education of her two young sons. She is determined not to be drawn back into a secret affair with Zhen, the married Chinese merchant, triad-member and man she loves who is, unbeknownst to him, the father of her eldest son, Alex. Charlotte is convinced she can find happiness n a respectable marriage with the attractive but reticent Captain Maitland.  But when murder and death strike, Singapore erupt in the violence of triad wars and Zhen’s growing affection for Alex gives cause for alarm, she must make some hard decisions, for her children and herself. 

 

Drawing on the real-life historical personalities of the time, Dawn Farnham mixes fact and fiction to paint a rich portrait of mid-nineteenth-century Singapore and the realm of the White Rajah of Sarawak, at a time when triads, piracy and crime were rife and life in colonial Southeast Asia was anything but safe.

 

The English Concubine

 


In Volume 4 of The Straits Quartet, young, beautiful and wealthy widow Charlotte Macleod leaves Batavia in the 1850s and returns to Singapore for the English education of her two young sons. She is determined not to be drawn back into a secret affair with Zhen, the married Chinese merchant, triad-member and man she loves who is, unbeknownst to him, the father of her eldest son, Alex. Charlotte is convinced she can find happiness n a respectable marriage with the attractive but reticent Captain Maitland.  But when murder and death strike, Singapore erupt in the violence of triad wars and Zhen’s growing affection for Alex gives cause for alarm, she must make some hard decisions, for her children and herself. 

 

Drawing on the real-life historical personalities of the time, Dawn Farnham mixes fact and fiction to paint a rich portrait of mid-nineteenth-century Singapore and the realm of the White Rajah of Sarawak, at a time when triads, piracy and crime were rife and life in colonial Southeast Asia was anything but safe.

 

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