I just had to sit back and say WOW!! at the end of this book
This was just outstanding,and I am sorry there was never a sequel and very sorry this author never wrote again. An incredible tale of Laura the poor relation on a journey to India with her newly married cousin Emily and her husband Charles (who Laura thought herself in love with). The book really has a Jane Eyre feel to it, neither the heroine or hero are out and out drop dead good looking, just strong, honorable people we come to care about.
As they travel through India on the way to Lucknow in northern India we meet many characters as the author sets up her stage to the Sepoy rebellion and the seige of Lucknow. Also introduced is Charles’ half brother Oliver Erskine, a Zemindar, or large land holder. Eventually Oliver and Laura fall in love, and are separated at Lucknow (after a harrowing escape from Oliver’s estate after the rebellion). Oh, when Oliver said to Laura, “I will come back to you, for you”.
The rest of the book follows the harrowing conditions at the residency at Lucknow during the seige, the battles, deaths and brutal conditions suffered by the British. Be warned that this was a very brutal rebellion and some of the scenes described, although accurate, can be a bit gory, but important history to be reminded of and the mistakes that were made by ignorant pompous officials and the brutalities committed on both sides due to hate, ignorance and prejudice. It’s unfortunate that we do not learn well from history and things are still so much the same in the Middle East in our present time.
The thing I liked most about this book was the author’s lovely prose and characters. I felt like I was reading Jane Eyre or Villette, she reminded me so much of Charlotte Bronte, particularly at the end with the letters Oliver and Laura exchanged and when they were finally reunited. You definitely want to set aside quiet time(no kids, dogs or phone) for the last 50 or so pages so that you can savor every lovely word and emotion.
Highly highly recommended for any lover of historical fiction, and would suit well to a younger reader as the love scenes are extremely chaste. I would also recommend MM Kaye’s Shadow of the Moon. The same setting, but her characters experienced the rebellion outside of the Residency, so you see a different side of the tale. Both are out of print, but readily available used.