The Last Reunion by Kayte Nunn. (2021).
**4.5 out of 5 stars**
Burma, 1945. Bea, Plum, Bubbles, Joy and Lucy: in search of adventure, attached to the Fourteenth Army, fighting a forgotten war in the jungle. Assigned to run a mobile canteen, they become embroiled in life-threatening battles of their own. Oxford, 1976. A woman steals several rare Japanese netsuke, including the famed fox-girl, from a museum. London and Galway, 1999. Olivia, assistant to an art dealer, meets Beatrix, an elderly woman who wishes to sell a collection of Japanese art. Olivia travels with Beatrix to a New Year’s Eve party in Ireland where friendships will be tested as secrets kept for more than 50 years are spilled.
I can’t help but appreciate a historical novel that mixes fiction and fact so that while I’m enjoying the storytelling side, I’m also learning about a piece of history that I didn’t previously know about. This particular novel is inspired by the women who served in WWII Burma; I’m going to be totally honest and say I had zero knowledge of this prior to this book so it was quite fascinating. The storyline alternates between 1945 and 1999, my preference was definitely the 1945 as it was so absorbing (although the 1999 parts were also intriguing). In terms of characters, the book has strong female leads with Bea and Olivia, and I thought each had significant personal growth in finding their assertiveness and courage when needed.
Overall: I highly recommend this extremely well-written historical fiction. Another fabulous novel from this author!