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…
What I Thought:
Dinah Jefferies first came to my attention with her novel, the Silk Merchant’s Daughter and, like with Before the Rains, I was struck by the beautiful cover designs used on her books. The covers are sumptuous, with rich colours and little details showing you more about the setting of the novel within – I’m a sucker for judging a book by its cover, but in this case, the cover and the novel go perfectly hand in hand.
Eliza Fraser is a fantastic character with a deep sense of responsibility to her elderly mother, but still wishing to set out on her own and make a name for herself in photography, at a time when it was still unusual for women to have a career. Her determination that she will have a life, even after she is widowed, is in sharp contrast to the traditional view of widowhood in the India of the time – the tradition of widows being burned alongside their husbands is vividly depicted in all its horrific detail.
With the world watching, it’s difficult these days to paint authentic characters of colour, especially as a white author, but it was my impression that the Indian characters were portrayed in a sensitive way and Jay, our romantic lead, was multi-dimensional, and not just a handsome face.
The writing is beautifully descriptive, so evocative that you can almost feel the baking Indian sun on your face, and the historical detail is impeccable, without being shoehorned into the plot (a bugbear of mine!).
As with most romantic fiction, Eliza has many obstacles to overcome to reach her goal and her happiness, but it is a real pleasure to root for her, while absorbing an impression of colonial India, right on the cusp of change.
The blog tour for Before the Rains continues, so please do visit some of these other fantastic book blogs:
I received a copy of Before the Rains, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are, as ever, my own.