By Tiffany Tsao
** Publication Date 21 January 2020**
Gwendolyn, or Doll, shares with us her time in a coma after her sister Estella poisons her entire family and friends at a party for their Opa, or grandfather, who is suffering from Alzheimers. Gwendolyn is the only surviving member of this tragedy. While she is hospitalized, her body can’t function but her mind is active trying to retrace what possibly could have happened to cause her sister to commit such a crime.
The family is Indonesian, of Chinese descent, and extraordinarily wealthy by any standards. Gwendolyn and Estella have been raised wanting for nothing. They travel in first class, stay in the finest hotels, attend college abroad, and eventually work for the family business. Estella marries a man who is initially emotionally abusive, but eventually morphs into physical abuse, and then death. Gwendolyn is married to her business Bagatelle, creating unusual jewelry and adornments for women.
I was already a fan of Tiffany Tsao’s work before reading this, as I’ve read both books in her Oddfit series. This is a complete detour from The Oddfits, but it is a good departure. I loved how she carefully unraveled the story of Estella and Gwendolyn, how it was to be Chinese-Indonesian, the dynamics of running a business in rather corrupt Indonesia and the eventual toll it takes on everyone. There are surprises throughout this novel, and it was such a pleasure to read. Tsao is a magnificent writer.