Set in 1917 Trinidad, twelve year old Latchmin is debilitated by typhoid fever and close to death. Miraculously, she begins to recover, but is horrified that a marriage has been arranged for her by her Indian parents who are trapped in this culture, Latchmin's future seems bleak. But she is prepared to fight to end the cruelty of arranged marriages and replace it with education, as well as help her friend who is forced into prostitution.
My life has always been varied and interesting, which means that I have lots to write about. Here are some of those things. Teaching in Trinidad. Nursing in the UK. MD of a lingerie design and manufacturing company, Leamington Spa. Lecturing in Business and Marketing, Warwickshire and W.Midlands. But a most important learning period of my life was bringing up my own three children, and two step children. Writing fiction is fun, fun, fun, not such fun, fun again.
The Last Year of Childhood is the first of a trilogy, all set between 1917 and 1960. The second book begins in 1933 with the first hurricane on record, the beginning of the oil industry in Trinidad, the effects of WW2 and the oil that it exported to help keep Britain in fuel in wartime, and the how they coped with life as changes took place, and the effect of Britain leasing the island to America for the military.
Today the eye of the world is in Oslo, where the 17 year old teenager Malala Yousafzai, is collecting her award for winning the Nobel Peace Prize.
She is a Pakistani school girl who was shot in the head for wanting an education for girls. Now she is at school and resident in Birmingham. Malala was fighting for the rights of girls in education in Pakistan since she was twelve. But this phenomenon is not new.
My novel The Last Year of Childhood, is complete and deals with exactly this same problem, although in a different way, set at a different time, and in a different country.
Latchmin is 11, bright and ambitious, and wants to become a teacher. Her best friend Sumati is 14, beautiful and passionate, and has fallen in love with a local boy.
But both their parents have arranged marriages for them to complete strangers. One is a much older man with two children. The other, has a reputation for being violent.
In their struggle to get out of these arranged marriages, things go very wrong, and they suffer consequences involving rape, violence and suicide. Their struggles are continuous as they try to help each other till the very end.