The past and the present interweave - from the last days of the Raj to the present day, and from the small railway town of Ajeemkot and the princely state of Walipur
to the cutting edge of the modern city of Delhi, and Sivalik - a pine scented hill station in the foothills of the Himalayas.
In this atmospheric, passionate and poignant account of a clash
of cultures, caste and creed, divided family loyalties, wealthy heartthrobs and the power of love, the story is told through three women whose lives entwine.
Hermie - a headstrong and bewitching Anglo-Indian - turns her back on the
Anglo-Indian community and reinvents herself only to find that a dark secret threatens to send her life spiralling out of control and cost her everything.
Sharp-witted Edith, exiled in India from her native Germany by Nazi persecution,
faces stark choices in a future very different from that she envisaged.Enchanting Kay, separated by more than a generation from Hermie and Edith, is haunted by a family mystery and risks her prospects
in London to pursue a quest for roots in India where fate hurtles her in an unexpected direction. Can they confront the storms or are their dreams destined to shatter?
The story of three women’s lives intertwining over a period of years really appealed to me. If you add in the mix of a timescale ranging from the end of the Raj in India to the present day then you have the makings of a great
The depiction of India is superb and obviously drawn from the writer’s own childhood experiences.
It is almost poetic in places as you can feel yourself transported there, the heat and dust and the sights and sounds of an Indian summer miraculously brought into your own front room.
other hand, I found the novel quite hard to read at times when it focused on the political and historical reasons for the British leaving India. At times it almost became a history lecture and this, for me, detracted from the main story.
The protagonist, Hermie, is a wonderful character and develops throughout the book from an independent minded seventeen year old to a demanding, slightly crotchety skinflint with a kind heart. Edith, I found interesting and Kay
provided the link to the present. All of them though are struggling to live in a society in which they are not totally accepted: because they are Anglo-Indian in Hermie’s case or in Edith’s case German and Kay who is rootless and doesn’t
know whether she belongs in England or in India.
This has the potential to be a great book but the style slowed it down in places. Nonetheless, Serena Fairfax is an accomplished writer who knows how to tell a good