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The Parasol Flower

The Parasol Flower

Author(s): Karen Quevillon

Location(s): Malaysia (Malaya), Hampshire

Genre(s): Fiction

Era(s): 1896 and contemporary

Location

Content

Nancy Roach has fled her dissertation advisor for Paris, where her PhD research is proving fruitless. When her curiosity is piqued by an illustration of “The Parasol Flower” in a 19th century treatise, she is drawn into the life of Hannah Inglis, an unknown but talented artist who slipped out of art history and into the Malaysian wilderness.

Working from Hannah’s letters and a cache of paintings—all of which have ended up, mysteriously, in the possession of the defamed Peterborough-Munk family—Nancy attempts to reconstruct a pivotal year in Hannah’s life.

The year is 1896, and in Kuala Kangsa, British Malaya, Hannah struggles to keep painting. Her husband and their expatriot circle increasingly oppose her art-making and its “uncivilizing” influence. Hannah finds support from two unlikely sources, the intimidating Eva Peterborough, an evolutionary biologist, and the Sikh police sergeant Darshan Singh who assists on treks to paint en plein air.

They are searching for a rare and legendary specimen—a flower that blooms as big as a lady’s parasol. Eva agrees to cover for Hannah and the Sergeant as they explore the mountainous jungle on her family’s estate. But nothing that’s meant for an audience can stay hidden. The science that Eva and Charles Peterborough are discretely pursuing at Idlewyld will polarize the two friends, put the townspeople in turmoil, and change Hannah’s life forever.

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Lead Review

Author: tripfiction

The Parasol Flower is a debut novel by Canadian Karen Quevillon, and it is a cracker. Set partly in the royal town of Kuala Kangsa, Malaya and partly in Hampshire, it documents how Nancy,...

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