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.