Monday, 13 May 2013
Author: Patel Shona
Genre: Historical Fiction
Type: Advanced Reading Copy (ARC)
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
First Line: "My name is Layla and I was born under an unlucky star."
Book Description: My name is Layla and I was born under an unlucky star. For a young girl growing up in India, this is bad news. But everything began to change for me one spring day in 1943, when three unconnected incidents, like tiny droplets on a lily leaf, tipped and rolled into one. It was that tiny shift in the cosmos, I believe, that tipped us together-me and Manik Deb.
Layla Roy has defied the fates. Despite being born under an inauspicious horoscope, she is raised to be educated and independent by her eccentric grandfather, Dadamoshai. And, by cleverly manipulating the hand fortune has dealt her, she has even found love with Manik Deb-a man betrothed to another. All were minor miracles in India that spring of 1943, when young women's lives were predetermined-if not by the stars, then by centuries of family tradition and social order.
My Thoughts: After adoring other books based in India (namely The Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda) I was eager to read another book set in the very rich culture of India. From the book description I was expecting a story that showcased how the strict and limited role of women in India affected Layla who was raised by her very liberal thinking grandfather, Dadamoshai. He believed that women weren't given enough opportunity to succeed due to their lack of education which only caused his numerous opponents to view him as upsetting the social order. It was this discrepancy, between Layla's upbringing and the cultural role of women, I thought the book would showcase.
This was true in the beginning of the book and I really enjoyed seeing India through Layla's eyes and seeing how Layla struggled to fit into her very strict society. Unfortunately as soon as Layla moves away to a tea plantation, in the middle of nowhere, the book takes a sudden turn. It goes from following the relationship between Layla and Manik Deb to becoming focused on the politics of Indian tea plantations which slowed the pace of the book considerably.
I have to admit that I continued reading the book in the hopes that the story would shift back to the initial feeling that I had in the beginning but unfortunately that never happened. The pace lagged dramatically and the focus on the political issues of the time seemed to take centre stage. While beautifully written and descriptive I unfortunately didn't enjoy this book as much as I would have hoped.
My Rating: 2.5/5 stars
Note: My sincere thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin for providing me with a complimentary Kindle e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.