Blog Tour & Review: The Sandalwood Tree by Elle Newmark
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published April 5th 2011 by Atria (first published February 17th 2011)
ISBN 1416590595 (ISBN13: 9781416590590)
primary language English
It's 1947, post WWII in Chicago, where Martin, Evie and their five year old son, Billy, are on their way to India in order for Martin, who has won a Fullbright scholarship, to finish his P.H.D. on the politics of modern India and the end of the British Raj. While Martin is still suffering from his service in the war, Evie feels this is a large part of their marital woes but she hopes that the mystique and romance of India will help. Unfortunately, it doesn't, especially when the end comes quicker than anyone thought after Mountbatten pushes up the date of Partition. Evie and her family find themselves embroiled in some of the area's increasingly dangerous strife and tension.
Evie finds some old letters in their rental home that belonged to two women who also lived in the bungalow almost ninety years ago. Evie becomes fascinated, almost to the point of obsession, with the story of Adela and Felicity; two very strong minded and unconventional women whose tales of society, love and life from the Victorian era intrigued me from the very start. I loved their stories told from Adela's point of view and I could understand Evie's need to find out what truly happened to them. The finding of the letters leads to more extensive searchs where one clue leads to another. Newmark does a wonderful job of seamlessly segueing between the centuries and the two different view points.
For most of the book I felt like I had been put into a time machine and plunked down into India in 1947. Newmark made India come vividly alive; so much so that I could see the sights and sense the sounds and smells of India right along with the the characters. The historical parts of the book, whether it was 1857 or 1947, were easily woven into the plot and had me engaged right from the start. Amanda and Felicity's story tied up neatly at the end, although, almost a little too neatly. A bit of it felt contrived but it didn't stop my enjoyment in the story. This book has it all; history, romance, family, relationships and a little mystery replete with colorfully drawn characters and exotic atmosphere. I loved it! 4.5****
More info on Elle Newmark can be found at her website.
Disclosure: A review copy of the book was provided by the author, Elle Newmark, in exchange for my honest opinion.