My mother died the same day as Marilyn Monroe. August 4th, 1962. Mom's death would force my father to 'return' to our family. Even though he came home every night, a large part of my dad was not really there. Ethie Coulter was born after her father Howard returned from the war in 1945. She never knew him as he was before, never knew that he had been an open, loving man and a devoted husband. When his wife dies in bizarre circumstances, Howard must take on the burden of looking after eleven-year-old Ethie and her two older brothers. Why, Ethie wonders, is he so silent and withdrawn? She can't help noticing that his breath often carries the smell of alcohol. Howard was one of hundreds of Canadian soldiers sent to the Far East following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. Surviving the fierce battle for Hong Kong, he became a POW, moving from camp to notorious camp, watching his friends die of disease, starvation and worse. Yet Howard carries more than the physical and mental scars inflicted by his captors. Something happened in Hong Kong, a secret that he has carried for nearly two decades.
Ethie, inquisitive and fearless, will be the one to work her way towards the truth and help her father come to terms with the past.
Donna Milner lives in British Columbia with her husband. Her first novel was the acclaimed After River which was sold all over the world. The Promise of Rain is her second novel.