Disease, exhaustion, and starvation threaten family in wartime Burma

No Long Goodbyes, by Pauline Hayton. PH Publishing. 311 pages. Trade paperback $14.99.

If ever a book gave inspiring testimony to courage, the spirit of adventure, and basic human kindness, Pauline Hayton’s new historical novel is such a book. Her story follows a group of people caught up in the nightmare consequences of Japan’s invasion of Burma, at this time a British colony, in 1942.

This little-known but horrific slice of WWII reveals how armed nationalistic endeavor can conspire with natural forces and hazardous terrain to push those caught in such a maelstrom to – and beyond – their limits.

Pauline Hayton

Ms. Hayton’s story, however, is not rooted in wartime alliances, strategies, or rationales, but in how people, unexpectedly trapped by circumstances beyond control, can find strength, resilience, and an angelic sense of purpose in helping one another. Though it is necessary for them to band together, there is something spiritual going on in their commitment to sacrifice for the common good.

This book, then, is a love story on many levels. It explores broken, repaired, and redesigned families. It shows how people of different backgrounds, races, and cultures can become attached to one another through the strength of their common humanity. It demonstrates that a family does not have to be a bonded by blood. It assures us that second chances can be realized and that the pains of loss and feared loss can be overcome.

The central figure is Kate Cavanagh, a British woman in her late twenties recovering from the death of her late husband who committed suicide after murdering their child – in part because the child was not biologically his.

Deciding to restart her life in Burma, Kate does well socially. She encounters and falls in love with Jack Bellamy, a recent widower with two small children. Jack is the head of a tea plantation. The two marry, but soon find themselves attempting to flee the Japanese forces, the natural forces of endless rain and cold, the scarcity of nourishment and clean water, the extremely dangerous mountain ranges, the threat of hungry wildlife, and the omnipresent risk of deadly disease.

The destination for safety is India, and the newly formed family, along with their Indian nursemaid, could never have imagined what lay ahead. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the February 27, 2020 Naples, Bonita Springs, and Palm Beach editions of Florida Weekly, the March 4 Fort Myers and March 5 Charlotte County editions, click here: No Long Goodbyes

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