I am delighted to share my review with you for Before the Rains by Dinah Jeffries. A historical fiction/romance set in 1930 India. This is one of my picks for the #20Books of Summer Reading Challenge and is number 7/20.
Let’s have a look and see what it is all about…
A romantic, heart-wrenching tale of love against the odds from the Number One Sunday Times bestselling author
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. . .
This is my first time reading a book by this author and after reading Before the Rains, it will not be my last time.
Eliza is a photographer who gets a year-long job opportunity to take photographs of the Royal Family in Rajputana, India in 1930. It is a chance for her to hone her craft and hope to arrange an exhibition that could lead to further work.
The story is that mainly of Eliza. It tells of her childhood growing up in India as part of the British occupation. After leaving India after the death of her father she has the chance to return and it is on this return that she photographs.
At the palace, she meets several members of the family including Jay the Prince and next-in-line to the throne. Jay is more progressive in his thinking than other members of his family, though he still holds firm to some traditions. Jay and Eliza gradually get to know each other and he almost takes her under his wing, showing her things outside of the palace that she would otherwise not have seen. This friendship slowly grows and a more romantic aspect, it is not a sudden thing, instead, it has a tension that smoulders.
The author has some fabulous scenery descriptions and she describes the colours and sights to a point that I could imagine what she was explaining. Details of culture, religion and, traditions are touched upon and these are heartbreaking and also real eye-openers. It adds to the suspicion around Eliza she being not only British but also a widow. Speaking of suspicion, it is everywhere in the palace and outside of the palace and from various sources. The tension of the time is brought out very well, as India wants the British to be gone and they can rule themselves again.
This is a very immersive and a compelling book to read. I did think that it wrapped up a little too conveniently but saying that it did give a satisfying ending. Along with friendships and liaisons, there is also a good amount of drama, tension, conspiracy and heartbreak. The clash of culture between India and Britain is dealt with well and gives an impression from both sides. Another large clash is that of the social classes, from the extreme poverty to the extreme opulence of those in the palace.
This is a really good read that I found quite addictive, and it is one I would definitely recommend to readers who like historical fiction and romance.
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