Torn Apart.


Torn Apart: The True Story of Two Sisters Who Found Each Other After Sixty-Five Years

Derek and his family knew little of their mother Sybil’s early years and her life growing up in Burma. They knew even less about her extensive family. On the 11th of June 2007 that began to change.
When Sybil and Blanche Le Fleur were growing up in idyllic Burma in the 1920’s and 30’s, little did they realise the changes and challenges that they would face during their lives. With the death of first their mother and then their father, they had to cope with enormous personal tragedy, including the loss of all their family wealth. Then the Japanese bombed Rangoon on 23rd December 1941. Sybil managed to get out of the city, but there was no way for her to return to her sister, or even to know if she was still alive, as the death toll was very high.
While Sybil escaped from Burma and settled in Scotland after marrying a Scottish soldier, Blanche lived for more than three years under Japanese occupation. After leaving for India in 1958, Blanche made a new life while still thinking of and praying for her sister. Decades later, a chance set of circumstances led to the discovery by Sybil’s son Derek that Blanche was alive and living in Calcutta.

Torn Apart is the heart rending, inspirational account of how the Le Fleur sisters lived separate lives for more than 65 years before an emotional reunion brought them together in October 2007.

July 2008 World rights: Mainstream Publishing Ltd, 7 Albany Street, Edinburgh EH1 3UG

Burma: In The Footsteps of My Family.

A work in progress, this book explores briefly the story told in detail in Torn Apart but takes the reader up to the here and now with fascinating insights on the writing process and the surprises it brings to someone not involved in journalism or writing as a profession. From the book launch to the appearance at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, Derek takes the reader on a roller coaster ride of emotions. Additional Burmese memories and stories are told by Sybil and Blanche as they recall events long forgotten and Blanche tells of her life in Rangoon after the end of the Second World War up to the first military government of 1958, when the family left for a new life in India. In early 2009 Derek and his wife Caroline plan to undertake a trip to Burma to retrace the journeys undertaken by his mother and to visit the places known and loved by the sisters from an early age. Interspersed throughout the book are short stories told by the wonderful array of people who have contacted Derek since the publication of Torn Apart. People who in many cases were born and brought up in Burma about the same time as Sybil and Blanche and who also fled the Japanese invasion, and people who were involved in the military conflict as soldiers or airmen. Visiting their new found relatives in Burma for the first time, Derek will seek to uncover from their social perspective the changes in the Burma that Sybil and Blanche knew in comparison to the Burma that now exists.

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