East of the Sun

Not necessarily an oldie but East of the Sun is a goodie. Originally published in 2009, Julia Gregson's novel tells the story of three women who travel to India in the late 1920's. Women (especially British women) were going to India in the 1920's to snag a husband from the crop of British men who were there as soldiers, diplomats and businessmen. The women were collectively referred to as the "fishing fleet."

The story opens with Viva Holloway being hired to chaperon 2 girls who are travelling to India. And one boy, Guy, who has been asked to leave his boarding school. One girl , Rose, is to marry a man in the British contingent of the Indian Army and her friend, Victoria, is accompanying her as her bridesmaid. Tor, as she is known is desperate to get married. Viva needs to get to India to pick up a trunk which is all she has left of her family. Her father, mother and sister all died when she was a child and she was sent back to England to live. She wants to retrieve the trunk and get some new insights to help her on her way to becoming an author.

The story continues through the voyage on the ship. The story takes off at this point. Tor becomes the life of the party and falls in love with the ship's doctor, Frank. Rose becomes more apprehensive as they get closer to India and her marriage and Viva has her hands full with Guy and her own demons. The story does not really go into the politics of India at the time. Gandhi was just emerging as a leader and the local population was starting to resent the British.

Gregson wrote a book dealing with the lives and loves of these three women. The setting may be India, which is of interest, but it's the characters and their choices that really make the story. Looking for love, finding it, losing it and then finding yourself is really what the story is about.

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