A Better Life Review

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About the Book

Ada, a young Englishwoman in early-1940s Singapore, is about to be married to Michael, a well-educated Anglo-Indian from a wealthy family. She dreams of a life of security and fulfilment. Instead, when the Japanese invade, her family struggle to cope under occupation, while she is interned in Changi gaol. Separated from her baby daughter and her beloved Michael, who is torn between loyalty to his family and duty to his country, she needs all her will-power to survive.After the war, Ada must decide how best to protect her child. She leaves Singapore in search of a better life only to experience prejudice and unkindness. But her journey will also bring compassion and hope. This moving and engaging story is an insightful depiction of people deeply affected by the horrors of war, a mother’s bond with her child, and the momentous challenge of rebuilding one’s life in peace-time. A challenge which requires, above all, self-belief, the capacity to forgive, and the courage to love again.


This is a beautiful story about a time and a place that I don’t know much about. AKA, my type of story. I love a historical fiction that teaches me something while also providing an enjoyable story. And one thing that this story does really imbue is the cost of a better life and if finding it truly is what you expected.

This story is set in Singapore in the early 1940s and examines life before, during, and after the war. While I’ve read a lot of stories on WWII, I haven’t read many focusing on the Japanese and can quite honestly say that this is the first one I’ve read centered on Singapore. While we are used to books focusing on the horrors of the Holocaust, but A Better Life gives a glimpse into the horrors of a Japanese internment camp. Taking us through multiple different settings this book is a moving tale on how difficult life was during this time.

A Beautiful Life is one of those haunting books that will stick with you because of the trials that the characters endured. It is a touching look at a battle for a better life while dealing with the prejudice and cruelty of others. And even with all of this the story is extremely unique and sheds light on a side of history that is rarely seen in books. This book will leave you feeling inspired to hope for more.

About the Author

Isobel Scharen was born in Singapore, where she was adopted by a mixed-race couple. She was educated in New Zealand before settling in England. She now divides her time between London and Bristol. A Better Life is her first novel.

*I received a copy in exchange for an honest review*

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