The Missing Sister

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 06 Mar 2019

Member Reviews

I really enjoyed this book
 Very moving and well written. Looking forward to reading more from this author.
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Dinah Jefferies style of writing does not disappoint in this latest novel.  Set in pre-war Burma in the 30's when a young Belle Hatton travels there to work as a singer.  She has history with Burma as her baby sister disappeared 25 years earlier and her mother, suffering from grief was sent away after being investigated for harming the child.
Belle makes friends with Gloria and Edward who seem keen to help her find out what happened to her sister, Elvira but each lead ends up being a dead end.  She also makes friends with journalist Oliver who also helps to try to find any information on the mystery.  Belle travels wherever the leads take her and faces danger from an unknown person.

The story flips between Belle's journey and the historical tale of her mothers life after Elvira disappeared.  Some of the chapters merge so it can be a little confusing at times but a great tale of grief, loss and a determination to find the truth.
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The story takes place in 1936 when Myanmar was the then British controlled Burma , albeit with bad grace from and rumblings of discontent by locals frustrated by colonialism and pompous civil servants running their country. Into this eclectic mix of inhabitants arrives the beautiful and talented young girl,  Belle, befriended on the journey by a much older and worldly Gloria who surprisingly seems intent on taking the new arrival under her wing. The writer then introduces us by a clever use of rhetoric and style  to experience the sights, sounds and smells of those felt by the new arrival intoxicated by everything about her new country and home. The story line then flips in various chapters between first 1921 and then back even further to 1911 drip feed us an alarming series of events involving Belles mother and a lost baby sister.  We now discover there  is more than one reason for this trip to Rangoon by Belle, and alarmingly, several locals just as intent on covering up a scandal from prior to her birth. There is much drama, mystery and suspense both related to the protagonist Belle but also to Burma giving us an insight into the political turbulence that occurred during this period. Well researched and believable storyline from a period of history when wealth, position and background allowed devastating events to occur with little or corrupt investigation. Casualties of such events could and were labelled as difficult, unstable and removed from society as a family embarrassment. So after what vies between a love story , a long hidden mystery and dangerous adventure, we are left with a satisfactory tie up of numerous loose ends to the conclusion of this most unusually multi faceted story.
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A beautiful story set in atmospheric Burma in the '30s.

Dinah Jefferies writes in such an evocative style that brings the settings of her novels to life. She is so good at describing the landscape and atmosphere of the country where her novel is set and when an outstanding story is also told it becomes almost a perfect novel for me.

Belle is a young singer who comes to Burma to continue her career. This is a bold move for a single girl of 23 but she is determined to be a success and Burma is especially close to her heart as 25 years ago her sister Elvira was mysteriously abducted from the garden of her parents' house while her mother, Diana, was sitting there. Naturally, Diana is suspected of being involved in this and both her and her husband, Doug, move back to England hurriedly only throwing more suspicion on Diana.

Diana's life is absolutely devastated by this tragedy, her husband is unable to cope with her, and she is sent to live in a small cottage near Cheltenham, is made to resume her maiden name and give up her youngest daughter Belle.

Belle has been told her mother is dead and her father has also passed away which makes her only more determined to try and find out the truth about the sister that she has never met. She has met Gloria De Clemente on her trip over to Burma, a society lady who knows all the right people and is introduced to her brother Edward, a man high up in the government of Burma. Gloria takes Belle under her wing and takes her to high society events at one of which she meets Oliver, an American journalist. Belle is immediately attracted to him but is warned by Diana and Edward to avoid him as he is a womaniser. She also receives a threatening note warning her off trying to investigate her sister’s disappearance. 

The story is also told from Diana's point of view, and we find out the background to the tragedy and how it affected her life.

I really enjoyed this book, it was an excellent story but was made all the better by the beautiful descriptions of Burma in the 30s, the way the Burmese people are beginning to agitate for independence and the snobbery and racist ways of the British. Together with the beautiful descriptions of Rangoon and the surrounding area which brought the country to life I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a great plot enhanced by beautiful writing.


  Dexter

Breakaway Reviewers received a copy of the book to review
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This book is a riveting story or persistence, love and forgiveness. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the scene, culture and the characters and my heart ached for Belle as she kept pressing on against mounting obstacles. Loved the blossoming romance in the story and was deeply moved as I read the accounts of the mother as she outlived her tragedy and went through the various stages of dealing with the loss of her daughter.
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Well Dinah Jefferies has certainly pulled something special out of the bag with The Missing Sister, it's a real tear jerker!
As all readers of Dinah will know, we can luxuriously immerse ourselves in wonderful descriptions of exotic climes without having to buy a safari suit, or even swat away a mosquito. (Although I did read this off the West coast of Africa)
The Missing Sister, in my opinion, is much better than her previous novel; The Sapphire Widow. The reactions between the main characters at the finale have been well considered, not all sweetness and light but animosity too. Bearing in mind the time in which it was set,  very plausible indeed. The affairs which were tolerated in the tropics is an interesting one. Everyone so far from home, for some it's a society prison and largely for the menfolk a playground.
Minster Lovell was a good choice for someone to find their true self. I visited the Hall over forty years ago and with the Windrush babbling past, the location had an almost hypnotic sense of peace.
The initial exploration of Belle's parents home and overgrown garden was extremely foolish as anyone who has lived in such a country will tell you. It will have been taken over by reptiles and nasty insects. Forcing your way through the undergrowth is asking for trouble. So, a little lacking in experience me thinks.
Dinah does have her funny quirks though, in The Sapphire Widow it was the overuse of 'breeze, salt and ocean' in copious sentences. In The Missing Sister, Belle is constantly affronted by the smell of fish!
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The setting of the story was excellent, you could feel the heat in Burma and the undercurrent of unrest and imperialism with the storm of change that was gathering. Although the story was enjoyable and a light read it lacked depth.
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The Missing Sister is a sumptuous story set in pre war Burma.  A young singer travels to the troubled country and discovers a mystery concerning her family several years previously.  Beautifully atmospheric and researched the reader is transported to the time and place.
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This excellent mystery set in what used to be Burma is really well written. I could feel the heat, see the vivid colours and taste the spices of the country - cooling off when the monsoon hit. Belle is searching for what happened to the sister who disappeared as a baby - taken or murdered by her mother? The story is woven around many characters and the author very cleverly leads us down different paths so we are left unsure of whom to trust.

I particularly enjoyed the way the story is told in the present and then we’re transported back to hear her mother’s story from the 1920’s to be given a picture of her life at the time her child disappears. She certainly suffers mental anguish, so is she perhaps a victim of post natal depression and false accusation or the perpetrator of infanticide? 

Belle’s search takes her into some very dangerous situations and she gets lost in the city one day and stumbles across an area that looks like a blood bath. People dead and dying everywhere. There also appears to be someone out to frighten her and stop her search as she receives anonymous notes of warning and a restaurant she is taken to, is bombed. The mystery deepens of why and who still wants the story hidden. Will she find out the truth of her missing sister and the mother she never knew? Will she pick the right person to trust?

A definite must read.
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I was given a copy of The Missing Sister by Dinah Jefferies by the publisher for an honest review. I have read previous books by Dinah Jefferies so was excited to read her latest book, it didn't disappoint. 
The book is set in Burma in the 1930's. It tells the story of Belle who after her father dies finds an article from 25 years ago in Burma about his new born daughter's disappearance. Belle's mother died when she was young, Belle decides to go to Burma to find out about her sister's disappearance.  The book is well written and describes Life in Burma in the 1930's under British rule. This is a fantastic story, I loved the characters and the mystery as Belle worked out more about her mother and who she could trust. One of Dinah's best books yet!
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I love books by Dinah Jefferies. Full of great descriptions and completely transported me, and immersed me in Burma. Fantastic, well developed characters.
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A book to get lost in and enjoy the sights sounds and smells of another country. This book was set in Burma early in the twentieth century. It's a poignant tale of a young girl setting out to uncover the truth of a dated newspaper report. Belle ends up looking for a sister but is unsure if she is still alive. The fascination of the book is the setting and the thought that something like this could have happened then. It pleased me from many different avenues, the history, the setting and the family drama. It is a book that was always a pleasure to pick up and that I knew I would get to the end fairly quickly.
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Belle's new job in Burma will change her life forever.

Settling down to read one of Dinah Jefferies books is always a real pleasure and The Missing Sister was no exception.

As always, I was completely transported to the setting. I can think of very few other writers who convey a sense of place more beautifully or accurately through their descriptions. The scents and sounds of Rangoon, the noise of the markets and so on are all so perfectly created. I love that area of the world and every time I read a Dinah Jefferies book it feels as if I'm actually there.

However, what I found fascinating this time was that in The Missing Sister there is a darker and more menacing feel than in the previous Dinah Jefferies books I have read and I thoroughly enjoyed this slight change. There's an underlying menace and a real sense of mystery throughout as Bell has no real idea who she can trust as she tries to find her missing sister. Some of the events that take place have a sharper and more political edge than I'm used to with Dinah Jefferies' writing and I thought they were enthralling. The plot twists and turns whilst exploring themes that are relevant to today's word as well as the 1920-30s of the narrative.

Themes of corruption, racism, social hierarchy, religion, superstition and mental health meld seamlessly with romance, history and geography so that I felt The Missing Sister was a brilliantly rounded novel full of suspense and interest that held me in its thrall.

I loved the characterisation too. Although the exciting narrative revolves around Belle who is vivid and feisty, it was Diana who gained my sympathy most. I simply couldn't forgive Douglas for his behaviour towards her, regardless of his motives. I thought the way Dinah Jefferies balanced Dinah's story with Belle's was poised to perfection and the manner in which the men underpin the action, but never overly dominate it, made the book feel well balanced and hugely satisfying to read.

The Missing Sister is another triumph from Dinah Jefferies. It's emotive, transporting and engaging. Above all else, it's a hugely entertaining story too. I recommend curling up with it and reading it in one go. You won't regret it!
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I have read other books written by Dinah Jeffries so decided to try this one. It certainly did not disappoint. The detail and description of Burma made me feel that I was there. I enjoyed the plot and the mystery surrounding it. Thoroughly recommended.
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Another brilliant story and travel through another country. Dinah really makes you feel as though you are in the same country and predicament as the character. Although our heroine is told to trust no one it is soon apparent as to whom she can trust and who not too. The revelation as it unfolds is true to Dinah's style . Where will the next one be set? I can't wait to find out.
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When Belle’s father died she finds out she once had a sister who went missing at only a few weeks old when her parents lived in Rangoon. Desperate to try and find out the mystery surrounding her sister’s disappearance she accepts a job in Rangoon as a hotel singer to enable her a chance to discover any information that can help to find out more about the sister she never knew she had. It soon becomes apparent that there is more to the story in the press cuttings she found when she begins to receive anonymous threats as she begins her search.


Dinah Jefferies has such an extraordinary way with words unlike any author I know, her ability to describe everything so vividly from the aromas to the settings means I have no need to use my imagination as everything has been pictured for me so precisely it is as though I am walking the streets with the author and our main character Belle soaking up the atmosphere along with them. Dinah Jefferies manages to capture not only the exotic beauty of Burma but she also shows a dark devastation both visually and emotionally with the effects of corruption and vengeance.


Trust and hidden secrets are at the heart of this novel, not only does our main character Belle not know who she can trust around her but I had my guard up around every one of the supporting characters in this novel so I could feel the desperation and loneliness along with Belle.


The chapters jump back and forth between the present with Belle in 1930’s and back to 1911-1921 with her mother Diane as we begin to piece the events that took place back to the little baby’s disappearance. As much as I loved our heroine Belle I actually found myself more drawn to Diana’s character and longed for her chapters to come to build a better picture of what occurred at the devastating time for this families life. My heart went out to Diana and I found her storyline highly emotive.


The author has once again undertaken extensive research for this novel and this shows in her storyline without reading her author note in the book. The Missing Sister is another remarkable atmospheric novel that will keep you guessing the whole way through.
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Dinah Jefferies new novel The Missing Sister takes us back many years to the exotic location of Burma in the late 1930's. It is another colonial country controlled by the British but times are changing and turbulent and it might be for not much longer that the British continue to govern the country. A young woman Belle has recently arrived in the bustling city of Rangoon principally to start a new job as a singer at a luxurious hotel but also she has a personal mission. This quest makes up the backbone of the story and the sense of mystery, secrecy and intrigue is evident from the very beginning. So many questions simmer to the surface and the tension and suspicion apparent from chapter one is maintained right until the big final, breathtaking reveal.

I was instantly sucked into this story as I already have been with every book that Dinah has written and that's because the writing is excellent and so vivid. Every page is so descriptive and you get such a feel for the time and place. You are sucked back in time to a country vastly different from the one in which I presume exists today. It's clear extensive research was undertaken but also that Dinah enjoyed visiting Burma and was eager to transfer her visions and ideas on to paper in order to write a captivating story. I could feel the heat as Belle explores Burma as her journey takes her further away from Rangoon. The stifling heat and tropical climate along with the tension surrounding the plot just kept increasing and gaining in strength so you knew something would have to give in the end.

I could clearly visualise the setting in my head, the bustling streets crowded with people going about their daily lives. The colourful and vibrant trees humming with wildlife. The villagers eking out an existence in the countryside and the stunning temples amidst jungle vegetation. But in contrast is the luxurious hotels and specific areas for the British where opulence is always on show. It seems they didn't ingratiate themselves with the locals rather instead they brought a slice of Britain to foreign shores and with that a secret that has been buried deep for so many years and one which Belle is determined to solve.

Right from the outset I thought Belle was brave and courageous. Firstly to travel to the other side of the world on her own but it also showed how tenacious and how strong willed and purposeful she was. She had burning questions and had a strong desire for answers. At first she seemed like a fish out of water and that at every point she was met with opposition and a blank wall. For Belle is resolved to find out what did happen to her long lost sister all those years ago. Elvira was just three weeks old when she was taken from her parents garden in Rangoon. Suspicion fell upon her mother Diana with her father Douglas torn in two as to what happened. Since both upped and left Rangoon after the devastating event leaving Douglas' important job behind the enigma has remained just that.

Trust is a very important word throughout this book because there seems to be a shroud of secrecy surrounding the events which changed the life of a family forever. I admired that at all times Belle followed her gut. Gloria the woman Belle meets on the boat on the way over and who seems to slot herself into Belle's life at every opportunity came across to me as if she was trying to be the mother figure but then on the other hand I was wary of her as I was of most people who featured. Gloria's brother Edward who worked in the British administration seemed to be so helpful and wanted Belle to find the answers but then again I was second guessing everyone's actions.

As Belle delves deeper into the past she starts to understand why her mother was the person she was when Belle was growing up, how losing her baby so deeply affected her. What also really helped the reader to gain a more insightful understanding of the overall picture was the fact that running alongside Belle's story was the story of her mother Diana as told from her perspective. I was reading the first chapter and then randomly it jumped back to Diana without me even realising it. I genuinely thought there had been an error in the book and that I had missed out on a page or two but no it soon became clear that we were learning of Diana's experiences after her beloved child was taken and how she dealt with the blame falling upon her shoulders. How doubt, suspicion, intrigue and illness drove a family to despair. How decisions were made that had ramifications and repercussions for so many years. But now as Bella wades deeper into the seething, boiling den of complications and conspiracies danger lurks around every corner.

Belle was a young woman who was so loyal to her family and she desperately needed to know what had happened and why. She wasn't one to rest on her laurels and even when things go against her and it seems as if everything is happening to throw her off track and off the scent she just keeps ploughing on. She hopes that attempting to  find out the truth will make up for what she has been missing in her life and allow her to move forward but what happens if she doesn't find what she is seeking? Will she be forever left wondering and it might drive her mad?

When an investigative journalist, an  American by the name of Oliver, makes an appearance I was suspicious of him too. After all news reporters are only out to find the big story which will further their career. Were his intentions genuine or just too good to be true? I think I doubted Oliver because I felt that way about so many of the characters apart from Belle because of the way the story was written but I think that is a good thing as I was really left guessing right until the moment Dinah had chosen to reveal all to her readers. As Belle falls deeper into a bigger picture she wonders should she just stop and give up everything seeing as trouble, threats and warnings meet her at every turn. She worries about things she can't change but as answers come within touching distance I was urging her on. The union she had struck up with Oliver could have been fruitful after all if only she could keep pushing through and emerge even stronger and successful out the other side.

Dinah Jefferies has once again written another brilliant book that reels you in from the first page and doesn't relinquish its grasp until the final word. I felt initially it was a slow burner but then the tension just grew and grew and I was as eager as Belle to discover all the secrets. It was an interesting, detailed and absorbing read which shows what a talented and impressive author Dinah Jefferies truly is and reaffirms why I love her books so much. I'm already looking forward to what part of the world she will take us to next and what brilliant story she will bring us.
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A thoroughly beautiful novel. The sights and smells were almost intoxicating. Such a skill to convey surroundings so unbelievably well. Intriguing mystery and a ballsy heroine I loved.
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This has all the features fans of Dinah Jefferies have come to expect-exotic location,feisty heroine,strong plot.This book is set in pre-war Burma,still a British colony at that time.Annabelle returns there to work as a singer in a grand hotel but also to try and find out what happened when her  baby sister was stolen from the garden of the family home in Rangoon  twenty five years previously.This had all sorts of repercussions for Annabelle and for her mother,whose story is also told.
As always,Dinah Jefferies writes beautifully about the place,with all the sights,sounds and smells associated with the East.She doesn't shy away from the prejudice shown by the British to the native people of Burma,or the violent events of the time.
It's a strong plot which holds the reader's attention and reaches a satisfying conclusion which I enjoyed very much.
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A mystery, thriller and love story but who to love. Bella is a singer working in Burma. Her family lived in Burma 20 plus years previously when her sister, an infant, was taken but who took her, why or is something more sinister going on. Living in a foreign country Bella goes in search of her older sister but who can she trust?
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