|Penguin - Viking|
January 23rd 2017
What's it all about...
1930, Rajputana, India. Since her husband's death, 28-year-old photojournalist Eliza's only companion has been her camera. When the British Government send her to an Indian princely state to photograph the royal family, she's determined to make a name for herself.
But when Eliza arrives at the palace she meets Jay, the Prince's handsome, brooding brother. While Eliza awakens Jay to the poverty of his people, he awakens her to the injustices of British rule. Soon Jay and Eliza find they have more in common than they think. But their families - and society - think otherwise. Eventually they will have to make a choice between doing what's expected, or following their hearts and doing what's expected.
What did I think about it ...
When photo-journalist Eliza Fraser arrives back in India ostensibly to photograph life as it happens in an Indian palace, she is unprepared for the effect that returning to the India of her childhood will have on her adult life. Old memories are evoked and new awakenings come to the fore in this heart-warming tale of mystery, intrigue and romance.
The golden days of the British Raj in India are on the decline and there is unrest and distrust, not just amongst the local population, but also from those British officials who seek to cling on to rule regardless of the effect that this has on local people, whose established way of life is challenged at every level. Very soon, Eliza finds that she is at the centre of a conspiracy, which will, not just place her in great danger, but which will also take her life in a whole new direction.
The author's vision of 1930s India, with all of its mystique and colour comes alive in vibrant detail. The inside of the Maharajah's palace glitters and shines. Its opulence and faded glory is in direct contrast to life in rural districts where archaic customs still flourish in dark shadows. Throughout the story, Eliza's love affair with India is sympathetically told, and yet, it is in her burgeoning relationship with the Maharajah’s brother, Jayant Singh Rathore, where Before the Rains really starts to come alive. Beautifully evoking time and place, the story is filled with intriguing people. I loved the strong female characters, particularly Jayant’s mother, Laxmi who epitomised all of the grandeur and elegance of a fading empire, and of the delicate beauty of Indi who had secrets of her own.
Dinah Jefferies is fast becoming one of those authors who I know will never let me down, either by her story telling ability, or of my emotional connection to her beautifully written stories.
Best Read With... A cup Masala Chai and a spicy lentil fritter..
More about Dinah can be found on her website by clicking here
Or follow on Twitter @DinahJefferies
My thanks to Josie at Penguin for my review copy of Before the Rains.
By coincidence my crochet work in progress perfectly matched the book cover