In this debut historical novel, a British woman living in India with her family in the 1850s struggles to find love.
George opens her tale as Edwina Hardingham is visiting her sister, Katherine, in Calcutta. Edwina has traveled from Simla, an area in the hills where she lives with her parents, to be present for the birth of her sister’s child. When Edwina makes a brief visit to the home of Indian friends in Calcutta, she and her servant are attacked by a band of thieves. Edwina fears for her life, but a lone man appears to thwart the assault. After chasing off the bandits, the man introduces himself as William Grayson and escorts Edwina back to Katherine’s. Before long, Edwina must return home. She finds herself infatuated with Grayson, and is delighted when he appears in Simla. As they grow better acquainted, Grayson quickly disappoints Edwina, displaying a fickle nature that extinguishes her affection for him. But his shortcomings highlight the positive attributes of another man she has just met in Simla, James Henry Davenport. Unfortunately, Davenport believes Edwina has eyes only for Grayson. Worse yet, before she can reveal her feelings for Davenport, he is whisked away to fight against the Indian insurrection that has begun sweeping through the country. With a sudden shift in tone, the book pauses its focus on courtship and becomes an action-packed war chronicle, deftly detailing Davenport’s attempts to battle the Indian rebels and locate his sister, whom he believes to be at risk in light of the general political unrest in India. Although the book contains two vastly different sections, perhaps attempting to accomplish too much in one volume, both stories are absorbing, and the author ultimately weaves everything together in the end. This well-researched tale illustrates the cultural and political divide that pervaded India in the mid-19th century. In a narrative voice that conjures both Jane Austen and Erich Maria Remarque, George provides intriguing and thorough details about the Indian revolt against British rule in the 1850s.
An engrossing tale about British expatriates in India during a tumultuous political time, well-suited for fans of Indian history and Victorian literature.