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Monday, April 21, 2014

Book Review : ‘The Midnight Rose’ by Lucinda Riley



I was wondering what I must read since I was on a longish trip, when 'The Midnight Rose' made an appearance. Coincidentally, I was on a roadtrip with my 90-year-old grandmother and my parents and we were headed to my cousin's wedding, which meant my entire family would make an appearance. (A reason why I could not write for the past couple of weeks, in case you are wondering)

The story began with Anahita Chavan or Anni’s entire family who gathered at a Darjeeling bungalow to celebrate her 100th birthday. Her children, grandchildren and her great grandchildren were present, but for her favourite great grandson, Ari Malik, and her beloved son Moh, who was missing. 

Anni who believes him to be alive has a request for Ari, who makes an appearance albeit, a little late. Anni hands Ari, a stash of papers, which outlines her life and why she still believes Moh, to be alive. 

Starting off with Anni’s life, which was struck by tragedy when her philosopher/poet father dies in 1909, she finds herself in Jaipur’s Moon palace with her widowed mother. Anni has her mother’s gifts of precognition and medicine, and her father’s English education, which come to her aid in the future.

As Anni continues her life at the palace, she comes up on princess Indira of Cooch Behar. The princess takes to Anni and a close friendship forms between the two. Thanks to this relationship, Anni goes away to the Cooch Behar palace. Tragedy strikes again with her mother’s death. She leaves behind a letter and a book of potions, and three rubies before her death, which would again come to her rescue, in the future.

Life continues for Anni, who is then sent off to England along with Indira. Education comes easy to Anni, who finds herself in Astbury Hall and the friendship of Donald Astbury.

Astbury Hall in England in the present day is the place where a period drama is being shot. Rebecca Bradley, a young American actress finds herself at the mansion and is looking for a safe hideout from the press, considering her newly engaged status to her boyfriend, Jack. She accepts Lord Astbury’s invitation to stay at the abode.

Ari, who is a successful business man has kept away Anni’s diary for almost a year, finds himself in England. He sees the Astbury hall repeated in the diary, and so makes his way there. Rebecca, who has a close resemblance to Violet Astbury, soon finds herself drawn into Anni’s story. Ari, who gives her the stash, soon finds himself staying at the Astbury Hall, in spite of Lord Astbury’s reservations and his mysterious demeanour.

Anni who in the past lived at Astbury Hall, was in love with Donald, but was hated by his mother Maud. How she finds herself ready to marry, but is drawn away to India and how she finds herself pregnant, how she comes face to face with the newly wedded Donald and his wife, Violet, and how Anni is back at Astbury Hall, before losing Moh.

Meanwhile, what is Rebecca’s relationship to the Astburys is another story, altogether.
I liked the book, despite the complicated plot with all its twists and turns. The whole period of Anni’s earlier life is brilliantly researched and blended well with the historical British Raj and then her English life.

It was never too complicated or fragmented because this book should be read at leisure. Whether it was the hills of east India of 1911 or the present day England, this book has the capacity to drive you into both worlds with the same tenacity and love for reading.

Of course, one can see the author, Lucinda Riley’s love for Anahita in the 650 odd pages. I read this book, as if it were a fascinating tale to be understood with the sensitivity and riveted by the emotion, which this book deserves. The smoothness with which it runs through time and continents speaks words of praise for the author.

Author: Lucinda Riley
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Pan Macmillan 
ISBN: 9781447218432
Price: INR 399





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