Book Review: ‘Circumstance’ by Rosie Milne

circumstance by rosie milne

This book has all of 464 pages and I was initially a bit intimidated by the length of the novel. Thank God for speed-reading! It’s basically about British-ruled Malaya and how the colonial administrator, Frank, takes a new English bride (Rose) but ‘neglects’ to tell her that he already has a native mistress, Nony, whom he has lived with for 10 years and had 4 children with. Frank, who wasn’t being quite frank, had thought he’d be posted elsewhere so neither of the women would know about each other. As luck would have it, he’s sent back to the same post, with his new bride. And the two women end up meeting.

I’d expected a story full of twists and turns. Would Nony somehow wrestle the title of ‘missus’ back? Would Rose somehow be able to accept the mistress who, after all, had already given Frank three sons and a daughter?

Nony ends up blackmailing Frank because he didn’t have the balls to tell Rose about Nony’s existence. That plan backfired because he eventually caved in and let the secret out. Rose ends up getting pregnant (her baby will be called Grace… wahahaa) and it is super strange how this pregnant woman can decide to kill her husband.

And that’s basically it.

The book’s a bit of a letdown. I was hoping to read about how the women would fight for Frank’s attention but it seems Rose only wanted Frank dead and Nony only wanted his money.

I guess the main takeaway from this book would be that it’s best not to have secrets regarding past relationships. Your spouse deserves to know. If she finds out (too late), and she cannot deal with the truth, then you might just end up with a hammer to the back of your head. You won’t even know what hit you.