Skip to main content

Review revisited: East of the Sun, by Julia Gregson


In honor of the US publication date of this novel, which is today, I'm reposting this review in the hopes that you'll go out and buy it!

This book wass initially recommended to me on Amazon UK because I purchased The Forgotten Garden there as well. Well, one thing turned into another late one night... and all of a sudden I found myself clicking “proceed to checkout.” You know how it is.

I'm actually rather glad I made this impulse purchase. Set in 1928 and 1929, East of the Sun is the story of three women who go to India: Rose, a young woman going to get married; her best friend Tor, going to be her bridesmaid and hopeful that she’ll find a husband herself; and Viva, a young woman accompanying them on their voyage in order to reclaim a trunk that once belonged to her parents. Also in her care is Guy Glover, an unstable sixteen-year-old, who’s just been kicked out of boarding school and who quickly becomes a risk to Viva and her charges.

Once the women get to India, nothing is what they expected it to be. Rose’s marriage is hardly a bed of roses; and, although the number of English men in India overwhelms the number of women, Tor can’t quite get her act together in order to find a husband. As for Viva, her plans to pick up her trunk and leave India derail pretty quickly as Guy Glover's antics get out of hand.

The novel is not so much about India as it is about the British in India and the so-called “fishing fleet” of young women who went there to find husbands. The first third of the book is devoted to the voyage out to India (in first class) on the Kaiser-i-Hind, and I thought that part of the book was particularly engaging. The characters are all finely drawn, and I found myself rooting for each of them. It’s a very lively and dramatic book, and I couldn’t put it down. The story mostly belongs to Viva, but my favorite character above all was Tor—her personality was much more endearing than that of the other characters.’ The only setback to this novel is the Guy Glover storyline, which kind of detracts from the story. In all, however, Julia Gregson does a wonderful job of capturing the last days of British colonization in India with a fine eye for detail. PS--Don't you love the US cover?

Comments

Claire Hazzard said…
I just finished reading this, and loved it - but I agree - the Guy storyline was unnecessary. The cover IS wonderful...
Alyce said…
Just yesterday I saw that this was coming out. It looks like a very good book, and this post just reaffirms that impression.
Gwendolyn B. said…
I've been waiting for this one. Glad to know you enjoyed it!
Marg said…
I really enjoyed both this book, and also The Water Horse by this same author. I can't wait to read whatever she comes out with next!
S. Krishna said…
I just finished this book and while I enjoyed it, I agree that the Guy storyline was peripheral and I really didn't like it.
Teddy Rose said…
Wonderful review! Sounds great. I just went to Goodreads where I keep my TBR and they are doing maitence, darn! I am pretty sure I already have this on my TBR but I want to make sure.
Danielle said…
I do like the cover. I just recently ordered it and have it on hand now. I would jump right in and start reading, but I have a few other books I really need to finish first. I'm looking forward to this one, though.

Popular posts from this blog

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Pages: 972 Originally published: 1944 My edition: 2000 (Chicago Review Press) How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, 2004

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is…

Review: Jane Austen's Letters, ed. by Deirdre Le Faye

Pages: 667 Original date of publication: 2011 My copy: 2011 (Oxford University Press) Why I decided to read: How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, April 2013
This is a compilation of many of Jane Austen’s letters, most of them sent to her sister Cassandra between 1796 and 1817, the year of her death. Although many of Austen’s letters were destroyed by her sister in order to preserve the family reputation, the collection contains over 160 letters in which Austen gives her sister details about her life in Chawton—as well as giving us a tantalizing glimpse of what was going through her mind as she was writing her novels (especially the novel that was to become Pride and Prejudice, First Impressions). There are other letters here, too, giving advice to her niece and professional correspondence to publishers—as well as a couple of letters that were written by Cassandra Austen after Jane’s death.
To the sisters, the letters acted in the way that phone calls do today; Austen’s news is all about pe…

Review: Midnight in Peking, by Paul French

Pages: 259 Original date of publication: 2013 My copy: 2013 (Penguin) Why I decided to read: How I acquired my copy: Phoenix bookstore, May 2013
In January 1937, the body of a young British girl, Pamela Werner, was found near Peking’s Fox Tower. Although two detectives, one British and the other Chinese, spent months on the case, the case was never solved completely, and the case was forgotten in the wake of the invasion of the Japanese. Frustrated, Pamela’s father, a former diplomat, tried to solve the crime. His investigation took him into the underbelly of Peking society and uncovered a secret that was worse than anything he could have imagined.
At first, I thought that this would be a pretty straightforward retelling of a true crime, but what Paul French (who spent seven years researching the story) reveals in this book is much more than that. Foreign society in Peking in the 1930s was stratified, with the British colonials at the top and the White Russian refugees at the bottom, but…