Gosh, I had so many conflicting feelings about Alison McQueen‘s Under The Jeweled Sky that I don’t even know where to begin. There were parts of the novel I loved, parts that were a little too melodramatic for me and parts that made me cringe. That’s a lot for one novel to offer!
Let’s jump to the parts I loved. The story was set largely during the partition of India and Pakistan and post-colonial India. Yep, that’s ringing my bells. Our protagonist, Sophie, falls in love with an Indian servant at a palace where her father is a physician. This is highly frowned upon. The young lovers are torn apart by a variety of circumstances, not to mention Partition. Will they ever find each other again?
If you know me then you know that stories of Partition and it’s aftermath in India are right up my alley. I also love the tales of those Britishers who stayed on after Independence. So far, so good. Where the novel falls apart is in it’s sentimentality. I don’t go in for that and quite frankly it’s what moves this novel out of the realm of literary fiction and into that murky category of women’s fiction, and perhaps even beyond. It reminded me at times of The Far Pavilions by M.M.Kaye.
Who would like this book? This book is for those who love an exotic, tragic romance. Just because I don’t go in for all that sap, doesn’t mean others don’t. Moreover, there were parts of this novel that I genuinely liked. Sophie’s life as a Diplomatic Wife in Delhi was fun and exciting. The parts about the refugee camps in Punjab were horrifying, but superbly wrought.
I received a copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest and fair review.