A sweeping novel that brings to life two love stories, ninety years apart, set against the rich backdrop of war-torn India.
In 1947, American historian and veteran of WWII, Martin Mitchell, wins a Fulbright Fellowship to document the end of British rule in India. His wife, Evie, convinces him to take her and their young son along, hoping a shared adventure will mend their marriage, which has been strained by war.
But other places, other wars. Martin and Evie find themselves stranded in a colonial bungalow in the Himalayas due to violence surrounding the partition of India between Hindus and Muslims. In that house, hidden behind a brick wall, Evie discovers a packet of old letters, which tell a strange and compelling story of love and war involving two young Englishwomen who lived in the same house in 1857.
Drawn to their story, Evie embarks on a mission to piece together her Victorian mystery. Her search leads her through the bazaars and temples of India as well as the dying society of the British Raj. Along the way, Martin's dark secret is exposed, unleashing a new wedge between Evie and him. As India struggles toward Independence, Evie struggles to save her marriage, pursuing her Victorian ghosts for answers.
Bursting with lavish detail and vivid imagery of Calcutta and beyond, The Sandalwood Tree is a powerful story about betrayal, forgiveness, fate, and love.
When I first heard about Elle Newmark's The Sandalwood Tree, I was beyond excited. Containing history, an India setting, and characters that sounded intriguing, I thought I would love it. However, after reading about 100 pages of it, I could not go any further because it was not the book for me.
Nevertheless, before I get to why that was, let me tell you a bit about it. The Sandalwood Tree tells the story of Evie Mitchell, a 1940s American homemaker dealing with a crumbling marriage and life in chaotic India, as well as Adela and Felicity, two young Englishwomen who is letters Evie discovers in her house. Thankful to find an escape from her life, Evie quickly falls into the intriguing life of these two British women, while facing her own life woes. Combining viewpoints from all three sets of characters as the novel progress, the reader quickly fall into to the world of India in the late 1800s and 1940s as all three characters face the changing of India and the complications that come from life, love, and friendship.
The main reason why I could not get into this novel was the characters. While on the surface they appeared interesting, I was not able to relate to them in many ways, leaving me to feel very little towards them. In addition, Evie's character annoyed me to no end. I wanted to feel for her character- understand and relate to her- but when it came down it she was a very unlikable woman so to say.
Furthermore, while I thought the plot sounded nifty at first, I found the execution to be lacking. Constantly I became sidetracked while reading and I never felt truly committed to the book. The plot also tended to jump around a lot, flying from one part to the next and back again for me, confusing me to no end. However, I will say, Elle did a fantastic job of creating the setting in this with her writing, making it truly pop off the page and come to life in the few chapters I read.
In all, while Elle Newmark's The Sandalwood Tree possesses a great idea, it just was not the book for me for a variety of reasons. However, I still feel many historical fiction fanatics will be able to find likable and loveable parts in it, which is why I am giving my copy away (see portion below).
Source: Publisher/Publicity Firm- thanks Tracee/Artia Books!
Becasue I would love to put my ARC (advanced reading copy) in the hands of someone who may enjoy, I've decided to give it away. The only thing I ask is that you review it when finished with it. Amazon, Goodreads, on your blog, it dosen't matter where as long as you do so. The review can be any length as well.
To enter, please follow the following rules and fill out the form.
- Must be 13 years or older to enter. (Please realize that this is an adult book and may contain some adult themes)
- Must review the book somewhere when finished (Amazon/Goodreads/LibraryThing/Barnes and Noble/etc.)
- Open internationally
- This giveaway will close on April 1, 2011!
*THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW OVER.*