What I’m Reading I: British-Indian Romance

by | November 29, 2016 |

Reading is an important activity for a writers. I’m also a devoted fan of the romance genre and read romances all the time for simple enjoyment. Any inspiration I get from the stories is icing on the cake.

Right now I’m on a British-Indian romance kick. 

Note: See my blog Romantic International Settings in Romance Novels

The first British-Indian romance:

The Far Pavilions by M. M. Kay (1978)

British-Indian Romance

Summary from Amazon:

This sweeping epic set in 19th-century India begins in the foothills of the towering Himalayas and follows a young Indian-born orphan as he’s raised in England and later returns to India where he falls in love with an Indian princess and struggles with cultural divides.

The Far Pavilions is itself a Himalayan achievement, a book we hate to see come to an end. It is a passionate, triumphant story that excites us, fills us with joy, move us to tears, satisfies us deeply, and helps us remember just what it is we want most from a novel.

M.M. Kaye’s masterwork is a vast, rich and vibrant tapestry of love and war that ranks with the greatest panoramic sagas of modern fiction, moving the famed literary critic Edmond Fuller to write: “Were Miss Kaye to produce no other book, The Far Pavilions might stand as a lasting accomplishment in a single work comparable to Margaret Mitchell’s achievement in Gone With the Wind.”

My thoughts:

Breathtakingly beautiful, sweeping, epic, romantic – only superlatives for this book that takes you inside India before and after the Sepoy Uprising of 1857. The main character, Ash, is the son of a British man and woman born in India who is raised as a Hindu and only comes to realize his British heritage later, so his understandings and loyalties are split between his Indian self and his British self. I missed reading the book when it first appeared, but I can state unequivocally that it has stood the test of time. A gem. 

Get The Far Pavilions on Amazon.

The second British-Indian romance:

Zemindar by Valerie Fitzgerald (1981)

British-Indian Romance

Summary from Amazon:

An international bestseller and winner of the Georgette Heyer Historical Novel Prize. A magnificent, twisting, turning love story unfolds amid the exotic splendour of the British Raj. Englishwoman Laura Hewitt accompanies her newly engaged cousin to India, first to Calcutta and then to the fabled fiefdom of Oliver Erskine, Zemindar – or hereditary ruler – of a private kingdom with its own army. But India is on the verge of the Mutiny, which will sweep them all up in its chaos.

My thoughts:

Also set against the historical backdrop of the Sepoy Uprising, Fitzgerald’s story is as well researched and presented as Kaye’s, although not as sweeping, since the last third of the book details the Siege of the Residency in Lucknow, thus taking away from other developments, significantly the love relationship between Laura, the first-person narrator, and Oliver, a British man devoted to India. For a rich sense of a fascinating time and place, highly recommended.

Get Zemindar on Amazon

The third British-Indian romance:

The Wedding Bed by Victoria Lynne (2015)

British-Indian Romance

Summary from Amazon:

THE TIGER OF THE THAMES Derek Arindam Jeffords, Lord Keating. Ruthless in business, savage in negotiations, cruel and calculating in his personal affairs. The son of a British peer and an Indian native, he is deemed too large, too powerful, too untamed to be properly assimilated into London society.

THE BRIDE Miss Calla Lily Staunton is in desperate financial straits. Desperate enough to offer a bride price for her hand in marriage. When Lord Keating accepts her scandalous offer, she is reluctantly drawn to the dark, mysterious stranger who shares her wedding bed…

My Thoughts:

Set in London in 1845 Lynne’s story plays out the India experience on the home front. The hero, Derek, is the son of a British man and a Hindu woman, thus distinguishing him from Ash and Oliver who are both full-blooded English, a point that mattered at the time. Lynne’s tale is thus largely about prejudice and overcoming it. It is primarily a romance with an edge into erotica, so none of the sweep of history is involved, which is not a criticism because I judge this story by what it set out to do, not what it didn’t try to do. Well researched.

Get The Wedding Bed on Amazon

See also: What I’m Reading

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This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen

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