Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Under the Jewelled Sky by Alison McQueen

Under the Jewelled Sky by Alison McQueen
ISBN: 978-1402288760
Published by: Sourcebooks Landmark
Published: January 2014
Trade paperback, 416 pages

British-born Sophie moves from England to India with her parents where her father becomes physician to a rich Maharaja and his zenana or harem. Exploring the palace where they live, 18-year-old Sophie meets a young Indian man called Jag, son of a palace servant. They soon become more than friends. The star-crossed lovers are torn apart and heartache ensues. Years go by, but their undying love remains until the end.

Excellent character development of Sophie in particular allows the reader to see her grow from a very young, untried girl to a strong, determined woman, tempered by heartbreak and suffering, who succeeds in finding closure in an unexpected way. India itself is a main character, finely drawn and enigmatic.

The author is skilled at building a tale that is both riveting and intricate. I learned a lot of interesting facts about India in this excellent historical novel filled with romance and suspense. Well-known figures such as Nehru, Gandhi, and Edwina Mountbatten make their appearances as India is divided or partitioned religiously and politically. Indian burial rites are described as are the condescending attitudes of the British expats toward Indians. The incredible wealth of the ruling class versus the poverty of the ordinary person is eye-opening.

Themes of friendship, family dynamics, the loss of innocence, and enduring love all feature in this story set against the backdrop of the political turmoil engulfing India at the time of Partition in 1947. I experienced a roller coaster of emotions - grief, compassion, heartache, sympathy, and internal turmoil - while reading this book. Keep a box of Kleenex nearby.

 I highly recommend Under the Jewelled Sky.

Note: This book is rated P(mild) = Profanity.

Reviewed by Sandra

Disclosure: Thanks to Sourcebooks for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

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