It’s a pleasure to be part of the blog tour for this wonderful book which I really enjoyed reading. Thank you to Noelle of Bookouture for the tour invite and an advance copy of the book via Netgalley. If you get chance, do seek out the other reviewers on the tour to see what they thought.
About the Book
She allows herself to kiss her perfect child just once. She wraps the baby in her last gift: a hand-knitted cardigan, embroidered with a water lily pattern. ‘You’re better off without me,’ she whispers and although every step breaks her heart, she walks away.
1910, India. Young and curious Alice, with her spun-gold hair, grows up in her family’s sprawling compound with parents as remote as England, the cold country she has never seen. It is Raju, son of a servant, with whom she shares her secrets. Together, their love grows like roses – but leaves deep thorns. Because when they get too close, Alice’s father drags them apart, sending Raju far away and banishing Alice to England…
1944. Intelligent and kind Janaki is raised in an orphanage in India. The nuns love to tell the story: Janaki’s arrival stopped the independence riots outside the gates, as the men on both sides gazed at the starry-eyed little girl left in a beautiful hand-knitted cardigan. Janaki longs for her real mother, the woman who was forced to abandon her, wrapped in a precious gift…
Now old enough to be a grandmother and living alone in India, Alice watches children play under the tamarind trees, haunted by the terrible mistake she made fifty years ago. It’s just an ordinary afternoon, until a young girl with familiar eyes appears with a photograph and Alice must make a choice. Will she spend the rest of her life consumed by dreams of the past, or can she admit her mistakes and choose love and light at last?
A stunning and heartbreaking novel about how a forbidden love can echo through the generations. Readers who love Lucinda Riley, Kathryn Hughes and The Storyteller’s Secret will be captivated.
What I thought
I really enjoyed this book. Most of the story is set in India between 1910 and 1986 and so spans two generations. It tells of two young girls growing up under completely different circumstances.
Alice is the daughter of a British Commissioner when India was under control of the British Raj. Alice’s relationship with her parents wasn’t a good one. She saw very little of her Father as he was always away on business. Her mother disliked living in India very much, but she stayed out of loyalty to her husband, however because of the heat and humidity there she spent much of her days in bed and Alice was left under the care of Ayah (nanny) employed by Alice’s father. Ayah had a young son Raju who Alice spent much of her childhood with. Ayah was more of a mother to Alice than her own mother ever was.
The story runs concurrently with another thread in a different time period and tells of Janaki who grows up in an Indian orphanage run by nuns. The nuns were kind but strict and although the orphans were well cared for and loved by the nuns their home comforts were very basic. This part tells us about life for Janaki and her best friend Arthy. As many unfortunate tragic events happen to Janaki, she grows up to be a very independent young woman who shies away from love as everyone she has ever loved, she has lost.
It’s quite an epic saga and sees the reader through the characters’ childhoods and far on into adulthood. The writing is compelling, drawing the reader in and creates the atmosphere of India with its aromas both good and bad, the heat, the humidity and the dust until you almost live and breathe it along with the characters.
There is so much to this book. Tragedy, poverty, class, political unrest within India, family dynamics, and has references to Mother Teresa and Gandhi. It’s a beautifully told story with so much heartbreak and regret. I loved it, if you like saga’s then this is one that’s a little different and I think it would make for a brilliant TV drama.
♥ Happy Reading ♥
Renita D’Silva loves stories, both reading and creating them. Her short stories have been published in ‘The View from Here’, ‘Bartleby Snopes’, ‘this zine’, ‘Platinum Page’, ‘Paragraph Planet’ among others and have been nominated for the ‘Pushcart’ prize and the ‘Best of the Net’ anthology. She is the author of ‘Monsoon Memories’,’The Forgotten Daughter’, ‘The Stolen Girl’, ‘A Sister’s Promise’, ‘A Mother’s Secret’, ‘A Daughter’s Courage’, ‘Beneath An Indian Sky’, ‘The Girl In The Painting’, ‘The Orphan’s Gift’
You can find Renita on the following platforms:-