BOOK REVIEW: Amber Road (Boyd Anderson, Bantam)

amber roadIn Europe World War II rages, but in Singapore 17-year-old Victoria Khoo is preoccupied with her plans to marry Sebastian Boustead, the son of a great British merchant family, despite the fact that he is engaged to Elizabeth Nightingale. When the Japanese invade, Sebastian and his Australian friend Joe Spencer join the army to defend Singapore, and Victoria, refusing to flee the city with her family, goes to live with her father’s second wife, where she finds herself entertaining the Japanese troops and protecting Elizabeth from the soldiers. When Victoria runs into Joe, who knows where Sebastian is, she is as determined as ever to become Sebastian’s wife, but also finds herself drawn to Joe’s charms. The end of the war brings numerous complications, not the least of which is Victoria’s divided love interests. While Victoria starts off as a naïve and selfish young girl, she soon shows admirable resourcefulness and courage when her world is turned upside down. Her obsession with Sebastian and her lack of concern for her family is harder to understand. This refreshingly not-so-perfect love story, combined with a well-researched depiction of Singapore during World War II, will appeal to fans of historical fiction who don’t mind a love triangle thrown in. Amber Road is Boyd Anderson’s fourth novel and his third historical fiction novel.

Sanna Nyblad is studying editing and publishing at RMIT and is the co-founder of Possibly the best book club you’ll ever join*. This review first appeared in the Summer 2012/13 issue of Books+Publishing magazine. View more pre-publication reviews here.

INTERVIEW: Boyd Anderson on ‘Errol, Fidel and the Cuban Rebel Girls: A Novel’ (UQP)

Bookseller+Publisher reviewer Scott Whitmont spoke to author Boyd Anderson about his forthcoming book Errol, Fidel and the Cuban Rebel Girls: A Novel, to be published by UQP in August.

Not many people today know of Errol Flynn’s Cuban connection in the last years of his life and his relationship with Fidel Castro. How much film and political history research was involved in the writing of the story? Was Cuban source material readily available?

No, not many people know of it, and I wasn’t one of [the few who did] until I saw a documentary on Errol Flynn that finished with a tossed-off line that went something like: ‘When Fidel Castro rode his victory parade into Havana in 1959, Errol Flynn was on the next tank.’ This appeared so preposterous that I went straight to that fountain of all absurdity, Google, where I found it was indeed true, and the more I read about it the more I felt that it wasn’t absurd at all, that it was inevitable that these two should be attracted—the celluloid hero seeking adventure, the genuine hero seeking fame. Each had what the other wanted. Put that together with the fact that both were renowned Don Juans, one an ageing stag and the other a young buck, and the deliciousness of this encounter was irresistible. Drama is conflict, and this is a drama that occurred but has gone unreported for 50 years.

Regarding research, there is little about their connection to be found. There are a couple of grainy and badly composed snapshots, a mention or two in despatches, but few reliable reports. For his part, Fidel refused to even talk about Errol Flynn soon after the victory. He confirmed the film star’s presence to a few American reporters, but then denied he was even there. Errol, on the other hand, bragged about it all over US television for months. Something dramatic had obviously happened. Continue reading