Tuesday, July 14, 2009
What a GLORIOUS Adventure....
East of the Sun: A Novel
It has been along time since I have been as excited about writing a review as I am for East of the Sun: A Novel by Julia Gregson!! I actually got up this morning grabbed the book, looking for my bookmark to continue, only to realize I had finished it last night!
Yes - this is the story of 3 women and 1 man who for various reasons embark on a life changing trip to India. It is the 1920's and India is experiencing "growing pains" - an independent India is not far off.
BUT - this book is so much more! Julia Gregson skillfully introduces characters that you will love and, in some cases, love to hate! Her portrayal of India (the country) will put you on the ship, next to Viva, Tor, Rose and Guy! Even the bad guys are so vividly and completely fleshed out that - you "get" their anger and where it comes from.
Told from the viewpoint of Viva (though occasionally attention is pointed back on her) the chaperone who is not much older (or for that matter experienced) than the parties in her charge. You will love the beautiful innocence that is Rose - going to India to become a bride and blossoming to her place as a strong grown woman. The fun and bold Tor - who battles her weight, her mother and her own self-image, but finds that when you stop looking - good things come to you. Last the turbulent Guy - you want to hate him but Gregson explains the views of the day and the lack of knowledge about mental health issues...in true manic/depressive style he gets better, then disappoints...constantly troubled!
You will cry - you will laugh out loud - you won't want this one to end...
As the Kaisar-i-Hind 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 inexperienced chaperone Viva Holloway has been entrusted to watch over three unsettling charges. There's Rose, as beautiful as she is naïve, 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 presence of a disturbed schoolboy named Guy Glover.From the parties of the wealthy Bombay socialites to the poverty of Tamarind Street, from the sooty streets of London to the genteel conversation of the Bombay Yacht Club, East of the Sun is graced with lavish detail and a penetrating sensitivity -- historical fiction at its greatest.
About the Author
Julia Gregson has worked as a journalist and a foreign correspondent in the U.K., Australia, and the U.S. Her second novel, East of the Sun will be published by Touchstone in June 2009. It was a major bestseller in the UK in 2008 and won the Romantic Novel of the Year Prize. Her short stories have been published in collections and magazines and read on the radio. She lives in Monmouthshire, England.