Elements (fire and rain) for July's books: After the Fire, A Still Small Voice by Evie Wyld and The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng.
After the Fire, A Still Small Voice, Evie Wyld: Set in the haunting landscape of eastern Australia, this is a stunningly accomplished debut novel about the inescapable past: the ineffable ties of family, the wars fought by fathers and sons, and what goes unsaid.
The Gift of Rain, Tan Twan Eng: Penang, 1939. Sixteen-year-old Philip Hutton is a loner. Half English, half Chinese and feeling neither, he discovers a sense of belonging in an unexpected friendship with Hayato Endo, a Japanese diplomat. Philip shows his new friend around his adored island of Penang, and in return Endo trains him in the art and discipline of aikido. But such knowledge comes at a terrible price. The enigmatic Endo is bound by disciplines of his own and when the Japanese invade Malaya, threatening to destroy Philip's family and everything he loves, he realises that his trusted sensei - to whom he owes absolute loyalty - has been harbouring a devastating secret. Philip must risk everything in an attempt to save those he has placed in mortal danger and discover who and what he really is.