Thursday, 15 January 2009

Book Review: East of the Sun by Julia Gregson

Genre: Fiction
Pages: 464

Autumn 1928. The Kaiser-i-Hind is en route to Bombay. In Cabin D38, Viva Holloway, an inexperienced chaperone, is beginning to feel as though she's made a mistake. Her advert in The Lady has resulted in three unsettling young charges to be escorted to India. Rose, a beautiful, dangerously naive English girl, is about to be married to the cavalry officer she has met a handful of times. Victoria, her bridesmaid, is determined to lose her virginity en route before finding a husband of her own. And overshadowing all three, the dangerously malevolent presence of Guy Glover. But nothing frightens Viva as much as her real reasons for the voyage: firstly to lead an independent life, husband-less life as a writer, and secondly, to confront her own explosive past. Three potential Memsahibs with a multitude of reasons for leaving their homeland - but the cargo of hopes and secrets they carry can do little to prepare them for what lies ahead in India.

I love historical novels and this sounded just like the sort of book I would enjoy. Even though I did enjoy it I felt as if there was something missing. I often finish a book and think about the characters afterwards - how did their lives progress, etc?

I felt like I didn't really care about any of the 3 female characters or about what happened to them. There didn't seem to be enough depth to them somehow.

The India of 1928/29 was a time of social change, Gandhi was becoming well known and there was a feeling of slight anti-Britishness beginning. As I didn't know anything of India at this time, I found this very interesting, and was fascinated by how the author described how some people were very suspicious of the motives of the teachers in the orphan childrens school.

The 1st part of the book describes the 2 week voyage to India - the various people the girls meet and the bonding that will carry on when they go their separate ways.

The rest of the book concentrates on the next 12 months of their lives.

This is a very engaging read with lots of colourful characters.

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