Friday, May 29, 2009

East of the Sun by Julia Gregson

Flap copy from paperback:
"As the Kaisar-i-Hindi weighs anchor for Bombay in the autumn of 1928, its passengers ponder their fate in a distant land. They are part of the "Fishing Fleet"- the name given to the legions of Englishwomen who sail to India each year in search of husbands, heedless of the life that awaits them. The inexperiences chaperone Viva Halloway has been entrusted to watch over three unsettling charges. There's Rose, as beautiful as she is naive, who plans to marry a cavalry officer she has met a mere handful of times. Her bridesmaid, Victoria, is hell-bent on losing her virginity en route before finding a husband of her own. And shadowing them all is the malevolent prescence of a disturbed schoolboy named Guy Glover."

This powerful historical novel follows the lives of three British women travel to India in the late 1920: Rose, engaged to a handsome cavalry officer she barely knows; Tor, determined to find a husband of her own to escape a loveless home in England; and Viva, an impoverished orphan returning to the country of her birth in search of answers. As these women set out on their individual paths, they confront personal and political challenges that reshape the courses of their lives and forge unbreakable bonds between them.

This was a truly wonderful novel that painted a vivid portrait of India in the last years of the British Raj. Extremely well-written, this novel managed to track a complicated cast of characters through an even more complicated world. The three women start out as almost stereotypical figures, but as the story unfolds so too do the depths of their characters. By the end of the novel, these women truly live and breathe.

I highly recommend this excellent addition to the historical fiction genre.

1 comment:

jennysbooks said...

You read my mind! I've been dying for a good Raj novel the past few weeks. Putting this right at the top of my reading list along with Shirley Jackson - great review!