Of Indian and Swiss parentage, Meira Chand grew up in England and began to publish novels while living in Japan. This is her eighth full-length work of fiction, and of those, only two have been unconnected with this country — though one of those, “House of the Sun,” set in India, is probably her best book. Four have been historical recreations, and they include her new novel about Singapore, where the author now lives.

“On the journey they spoke about the island,” runs the prologue to the story, as it imagines the new immigrants and settlers traveling there: “Singapore rested beneath the tongue of Malaya, fabled treasure of the crystal seas, the Golden Chersonese.” Famously, the city was invented by an Englishman, Stamford Raffles, who had seen its rich possibilities for commerce “at a point pinning down two oceans.” It grew and flourished under the British Empire.

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