Friday, March 26, 2010

East of the Sun by Julia Gregson

I did enjoy this but did not find it as captivating as I had expected to, both from reviews read and from the fact that it won the UK Romantic Novel of 2009 award. It was an enjoyable read though maybe my opinion was clouded because a favourite author of mine did not win the award.
In 1928, three young women leave the United Kingdom  to start what they hope will be new lives in India.  The first protagonist we meet is Viva Holloway who wishes to return to India having spent some of her childhood there. She has very confused memories of the past  and hopes that sorting these out will give her peace of mind and freedom from her demons. She is twenty eight and finds herself working her passage to India as chaperone to the other three protagonists of the story, all at least ten years or so her junior.
Rose, niave and anxious about her future is travelling to India to marry her fiancé Captain Jack Chandler in Bombay, a man she barely knows. She is accompanied by her best friend Victoria ‘Tor’ Sowerby who was to be her bridesmaid. While Rose is moving to India for love, Tor hopes to find love whilst there. So that she does not have to return home to England and her over powering mother.
Full of hope and excitement these young women are far from prepared for all that lies ahead of them in India. All looking for that fairy tale ending the girls all become close friends as they mature into stronger individuals.
The young man Guy who is the third young person whom Viva chaperones on the journey, turns out to be a most unpleasant and confused young man due to mental health issues, that were not properly understood. He actually turns out to aggravate a lot of the problems they later have in India.
For me the novel was more a historical novel of suspense than strongly romantic, the story is rather dramatic at times as it is set in the period of violence caused by the coming of the end of British rule in India. Viv, Rose, Tor and Guy are all trying to cope with their own personal problems and battles for independence, amidst the background of a country fighting for the very same thing.

In all this was a vividly descriptive and enjoyable read.
Julia Gregson
'East of the Sun' has been published in Italy as ' Matrimonio a Bombay'/ 'Marriage in Bombay'.  Although in Italian this video depicts a delighful picture of the story.