A love story set in the Land of Smiles, Thailand.
The King and I revisited.
What’s in a time? Life and death; that’s what.
At three am on Boxing Day, 2004 a woman dies in London. At exactly the same time, six thousand miles away in Thailand a man dies at ten o’clock, local time. Two years later the bereaved meet by chance and their lives are changed for ever.
Jack Benson, a retired banker of 45 has toured the world for the two years since his wife unexpectedly died, visiting his substantial property investments, escaping from his memories and seeking the means to fulfilment in life.
In Bangkok to discuss the development of a Macao style gambling resort in southern Thailand he unexpectedly becomes embroiled in the seedy world of the Thai sex industry as he saves twin sisters from their evil uncle.
Ignoring his first instincts to abandon them and conscious of the hand of destiny, he finds himself intrigued and excited to immerse himself in their life and culture, rekindling not only his zest for life but love as well.
The quick moving story starts with the tragedy of the South Asian tsunami, of 2003, and is played out in the beautiful country of Thailand against a background of growing insurrection in the south.
Following a trip to Cambodia, Jack is humbled on hearing of the works of a Swiss doctor and decides to devote his life to helping disadvantaged woman including the twins, who he discovers are not only intelligent but also caring and kind. With the help of Peaches Langer, an American immunologist, he establishes a refuge near the town of Trang, where he is soon involved in transforming lives in both a practical and emotional way.
The refuge, called “Shangri La” after the hotel where Jack met the twins, is busy from the outset and the increasing numbers of “guests” requires that he adopts a more structured daily regime, involving, principally, health, fitness and education.
The story traces how the refuge grows and how he copes with the mental conflicts caused when many of the women he helps, fall in love with him and he finds himself increasingly unable to resist reciprocating their affection. He begins to compare himself with the legendary “King of Siam” and his harem.
When a Muslim girl arrives seeking refuge from a forced marriage to a terrorist leader, Jack and ‘Shangri La’ are forced to the forefront of the escalating unrest in the region. Faced with the decision of abandoning her and saving the home or helping her, Jack has no doubts and as his personal love life becomes ever more complicated the beat of the story rises as ‘Shangri La’ becomes the focus of the world and the story reaches its climax on Easter Sunday 2008.