I'm taking part in Transworld's Reading Group. As a part of that I received a copy of
The Sandalwood Tree by Elle Newmark to review.
Here's what Amazon has to say about it It is 1947, and Evie and Martin Mitchell have just arrived in the Indian village of Masoorla with their five-year-old son. But cracks soon appear in their marriage as Evie struggles to adapt to her new life, and Martin fails to bury unbearable wartime memories.
When Evie finds a collection of letters, concealed deep in the brickwork of their rented bungalow, so begins an investigation that consumes her, allowing her to escape to another world, a hundred years earlier, and to the extraordinary friendship of two very different young women.
And as Evie’s fascination with her Victorian discoveries deepens, she unearths powerful secrets. But at what cost to her present, already fragile existence?
I loved this book. Absolutely loved it. If I'd have written the review as soon as I finished it it basically would have consisted of "you have to read this book. Buy it. Buy it now.". You may have seen my tweet about that.
Why did I love it? It had brilliantly written characters, amazing scenes and a great atmosphere. The colour, sounds and other things that made up life in India in both the time periods described jump off the page and really make you feel like you're there. I found I really came to care about the characters and as Evie was discovering the Victorian girls' secrets I wanted to tell her to hurry up, I needed to know what was happening to them and couldn't wait. I would really love to read more about these characters, especially Felicity and Adela.
I found this book hard to put down. When I start a new book I like to read the first 50 pages. Not always in one go but that's my goal I think if after 50 pages I'm not into it I'm not likely to like it. I started reading this when I had an hour or so before needing to start making dinner which I figured meant I'd read roughly 50 pages ( unless a book has really long chapters, I like to stop at the end of one). I think I'd read something like 140 pages before hunger forced my hand. Needless to say it was a very late dinner that night!
The book has a brilliant ending - it ties up all the threads and you know how things will go but you don't know the details of how, what, and where. I like that. I was left wanting to know what came next in the story of Evie and her family. Knowing that the part of their story in the book is over and being able to make my own mind up about how it continues is something I like as a reader. I don't find many books with characters that do that to me.
I can't recommend this book highly enough. It's one of the best books I've read in a long time.