Saturday, 24 October 2009

East of the Sun

East of the sun- Julia Gregson ISBN 978-1-4091-251-9

East of the Sun Julia Gregson’s second novel is a wonderfully engrossing novel, telling the story of three young British women who leave cold cheerless England in search of a new life freedom and hopefully love in 1920s India. Gregson writes characters you can care about and this is what makes her writing such a pleasure to read.
In this book it is 1928, the three women are Rose, a beautiful but naïve bride-to-be, who is anxious about leaving her family, in particular her father who is ill, and also not sure about marrying a man she hardly knows. Victoria, her bridesmaid, she is a buxom but beautiful girl, who couldn’t be happier to get away from her overbearing mother to whom she will always be a disappointment. Victoria is determined to find herself a new future and a husband in India. Finally Viva, their totally inexperienced chaperone, is in search of the India of her childhood, trying to lay ghosts from the past and make a new life for herself. In order to pay her way she also take charge of a young man recently expelled from school who becomes an very significant figure in her future life.
They are each totally unprepared for the reality of the voyage and for the difference of life in India, even though Viva lived there as a small child. Reading this novel, written about the last days of the Raj is a wonderfully exotic experience as you read you can almost smell the spices and feel the summer heat.

1 comment:

  1. It would be so easy to mistake this book for one of those others, lush, rich people having dramas played out against exotic backgrounds. This one was so much more. It was people of all economic groupings, for a start, and it wasn’t just us, it was the Indians, shown in so many different ways. Everyone commented on everyone else, rightly, wrongly. I understood so much more about the cultures of us in the ‘20s, off on ‘the fishing fleet’ to find husbands; and of what India was like at the time – Gandhi and times changing, us changing [or not in the case of some], the Indians changing towards us, in so many ways large and small. There is so much detailed historical analysis and research clearly done in the writing of this book, and all doled out during the story, so that its so much easier to understand this complicated period, and from so many different points of view.

    Characters are wonderful – Viva, the bluestocking author, who wants to learn all about India and be a writer – her road is rough, and all her mysteries come to haunt her until she is healed at the end. Rose who comes to India for the equivalent of an arranged marriage, neither she nor her prospective husband Jack truly understanding that their lives before and after marriage will be utterly different; there was no getting to know each other, no blending…they cut each other’s lives in half and bled through the book until a sort of truce was reached, unhappy but its where they’re left. consulta online Tor, who is desperate to get away from her controlling mother, and stay in India after accompanying Rose out. She is full of life and enthusiasm and ends up happy, for which I am so glad, with the wonderful boyish Toby, who understood so much – there’s a very affecting story about a small bird he tells.