LITTLE PARADISE by Gabrielle Wang

Friday, April 30, 2010

Summary from publisher's website: Melbourne, 1943, and Mirabel is seventeen. She's leaving school, designing dresses, falling in love. Then fate intervenes, her forbidden affair is discovered, and JJ is posted back to China where a civil war is raging. Despite all warnings, Mirabel sets off for Shanghai to find him . . .

My review: I think this is the type of book that anyone interested in reading about that place (Australia & Shanghai) in that time period (World War II) would enjoy. It's based off the author's parents' story, and I'm not sure how much fact and how much creative license, but the realism was brilliant.

The characters in Little Paradise all seemed very three-dimensional, the storyline was engaging (it took a while to warm up, and was slow-paced through the beginning, though once Mirabel got to Shanghai it became very interesting) and I read it in two sittings. One criticism would be that it seemed a bit dry at times - it was written in third person, and generally books in third person don't seem to have as much voice as there is in first person. I think it would've been really interesting from Mirabel's first-person perspective, because I think more of Mirabel's personality would have shone through.

Mirabel ages from seventeen into her early twenties during the novel, and since her experiences aren't particularly teenager-like (having a baby and going into a warzone to find your husband aren't exactly things I can relate to, but Mirabel's story was still fantastic and I really enjoyed this novel...) I think adult readers won't be turned off. But I strongly encourage teenagers to read this, too... I think this was all the more powerful because it is based off fact. I've studied World War II with school, and watched a lot of programs about it around Anzac Day, and what really resonates with me are the personal stories of war - the women at home, the ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. I think that was one of the reasons why I enjoyed Little Paradise so much.

Do you enjoy novels inspired by true stories?
Proudly designed by Mlekoshi playground