300 Days of Sun by Deborah Lawrenson

300days300 Days of Sun by Deborah Lawrenson was the perfect book to read during my 10 days of sun on Spain’s south coast. I knew from having read The Lantern by Lawrenson that 300 Days of Sun would be a pager turner that wouldn’t lack in intelligence. And set mostly in Faro, Portugal, it wasn’t too far from the Costa del Sol. Continue reading

The Photographer’s Wife by Suzanne Joinson

photographers wifeSuzanne Joinson first came onto my radar with A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar, a book I’ve been meaning to read but haven’t gotten around to yet. So when The Photographer’s Wife, Joinson’s latest novel came across my desk, I couldn’t pass it up. Set in 1920s Jerusalem and filled with political intrigue, I knew I’d love it from the start. Continue reading

A House Called Askival by Merryn Glover

A House Called Askival by Merryn GloverI know what you’re thinking … where have i been? Well, that’s another story (hint: Canary Islands), but I’m back with a bundle full of reviews to write. First up – A House Called Askival by Merryn Glover. It’s published by a small Scottish press, so you may not have heard of it, but it is well worth searching for it. Continue reading

Villa America by Liza Klaussmann

Villa America by Liza KlaussmannVilla America was, perhaps, my most anticipated read of the summer. I loved Liza Klaussmann‘s last novel, Tigers In Red Weather (review), so much. That plus the fact that Villa America recounts the life and times of Sara and Gerald Murphy and their famous friends, including Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Picasso, and I felt certain that this book was going to steal the summer. Continue reading

Maya by C.W. Huntington

Maya by C.W. HuntingtonI am a sucker for stories of expat academics in India, because for a time, that was my life too. I was even more drawn to Maya by C.W. Huntington because it is largely set in Banaras (or Varanasi, depending on where you sit on that divide), where i did my research. But i do not know how broad the appeal of Maya will be to those who live outside this rarefied crowd. Continue reading

Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum

Hausfrau by Jill Alexander EssbaumHausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum seems to be the ‘it’ book being talked about right now. The media push behind it is tremendous, but reviews of it seem to be all over the place. The range from ‘best book of the decade, a must read’ to ‘huh? what’s all the hype about?’. I fall somewhere in the middle. Continue reading

Under the Jeweled Sky by Alison McQueen

under-a-jeweled-skyGosh, 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.