2017 Reviews · Adventure · fiction · historical fiction · Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday Book Review: The Far Side of the Sun by Kate Furnivall


Welcome to a weekly post, Throwback Thursday. This weekly book review post is a way to share some old favourites, books that were published over a year ago and most importantly those books that have been languishing on the to be read pile for far too long!

It is my turn to deliver this week’s Throwback Thursday Book Review. The Far Side of the Sun is a 2014 release, from a much loved historical fiction author of mine, Kate Furnivall. I recently decided to catch up on Kate Furnivall’s back catalogue after enjoying one of her more recent titles. I thoroughly enjoyed this week’s Throwback Thursday offering!

Synopsis:the far side of the sun small

With beautiful blue skies, sandy beaches and glorious sunshine, the Bahamas is a slice of heaven. But in 1943, the world is at war and even paradise isn’t safe . . .

Twenty-three-year-old Dodie Wyatt thought she had escaped her turbulent past – but one night her peace is shattered when she chooses to help a man she finds stabbed in an alleyway.

On the other side of Nassau, wealthy diplomat’s wife Ella Stanford plays the role she has been born into, throwing herself into charitable work and charming her husband’s powerful friends. But she has secrets to keep – and those secrets could put her life in danger.

My review:

I’ve been a fan of Kate Furnivall’s work for many years. I became hooked on her writing when I went through a spell of only reading World War II titles, especially those with links to Russia (I blame my favourite book ever, The Bronze Horseman for this). I decided it was time to catch up on Furnivall’s back catalogue after I enjoyed a more recent title, The Liberation. So, I dusted The Far Side of the Sun off my sagging bookshelves.

The Far Side of the Sun takes the reader to the Bahamas in the year 1943. Dodie Wyatt has recently moved to this tropical haven, hoping to put her difficult past behind her. Dodie’s quiet life takes a drastic turn when she helps a severely injured man in an alleyway. Linking to Dodie’s story is Ella Stanford’s story, the wife of a wealthy diplomat. Ella’s husband has been posted to the Bahamas to keep a watchful eye on the Governor of the Bahamas, the Duke of Windsor, ensuring that he does not communicate with his Nazi acquaintances. With the Bahamas becoming under increasing threat, Ella and Dodie become embroiled in the danger. A secret Ella holds also threatens to derail her perfect life. Together, Dodie and Ella they fight against the violence and corruption that has infiltrated their city. The Far Side of the Sun is an engrossing story of love, friendship, survival and loyalty.

The Far Side of the Sun is a gently paced book that has plenty to offer the reader. It is an intriguing World War II mystery, follows fascinating characters, features a stunning tropical locale, offers plenty of simmering romance and is filled with many moments of danger.

Kate Furnivall is well known for her sweeping historical landscapes that always provide the perfect backdrop to her narratives. I was immediately taken in by Furnivall’s choice of setting for this novel. The Far Side of the Sun is set in the picturesque tropical locale of the Bahamas. I haven’t read a book set in the Bahamas before, so I appreciated the original location choice. Furnivall paints her setting with a keen eye. The lush surrounds of the exotic Bahamas come to life through the penmanship of Kate Furnivall.

Furnivall’s leading heroines, Dodie and Ella, are full and likeable characters. I soon felt I knew both these women well, through Furnivall’s skilled writing. The back story of each of these leading characters was great to unpack. I liked how Furnivall was able to tie their lives together, despite the differences that existed between these women. Dodie is cast as an outsider, while Ella is the toast of society. It was a great contrast, but is accurately reflective of the class differences present in this city during this period.  Furnivall also shows how friendship prevails, in the most unexpected ways, from the relationship between these two leads.

Furnivall’s insertion of the Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson into the fold, further increased my interest in this novel. In fact, I wanted more scenes involving the Duke, who was appointed to the position of the Governor of the Bahamas from 1940, until he resigned from the post in 1945. I was equally fascinated by Wallis and her place in the Bahamas high society during this time. Furnivall contrasts the glitz and glamour of the life of the royal couple, with the impoverished conditions of this island, which experienced much civil unrest during the time the Windsors resided there.

Further interest in this novel was solidified when I discovered the author’s closing note at the end of this novel. Furnivall explains that her narrative is loosely based on the real life unresolved murder of a wealthy figure in the Bahamas in 1943. After learning this interesting piece of information, I just had to do some further research and what I discovered was very interesting indeed. I encourage other readers to do this if you are at all interested in the real life crime that inspired this novel.  It is obvious that Furnivall researched this unresolved murder and the community of the Bahamas in the 1940’s extremely well. Through Furnivall, we learn a great deal of period and locale specific detail of the Bahamas. Furnivall also draws our attention to the often neglected dark side of island paradise. She exposes this time of unrest in the tropical city, highlighting the greed, corruption, murder, violence, class divides and gang activity that existed at the time.

 The Far Side of the Sun is a stunning historical fiction offering, that covered all bases for me. It offered an involving storyline, rich characters, an emotionally moving romance, an exotic backdrop and a very good mystery. I particularly liked how the mystery element of the novel was kept open for as long as possible, with the ends tied up towards the final chapters of the book. I recommend The Far Side of the Sun to fans of historical novels, especially those who appreciate a distinctive historical landscape.  If you are yet to discover Kate Furnivall’s work, this book is a great place to start.

The Far Side of the Sun by Kate Furnivall was published in 2014. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of The Far Side of the Sun, Kate Furnivall, visit here.

3 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday Book Review: The Far Side of the Sun by Kate Furnivall

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