Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Sandalwood Tree by Elle Newmark

This is a lovely and informative novel. The setting is India, both 1947 and 1858. There are five love stories in a way.. There's the heroine, Evie and Martin. They are married with a five year old boy. Their marriage was wonderful until Martin went to serve in WW2... now things are falling apart. Evie thought that coming to India would bring them closer together, but they have simply "exported" their unhappiness... In order to save their marriage, Martin must get rid of his inner demons and both of them must learn to live for joy..

Evie finds old letters and a journal from 1858 chronicling the lives of Felicity and Adela. Adela has a love story.. Adela was a lesbian in a time when lesbianism was frowned upon.. Adela had an affair with a maid in England despite her great love for Felicity...

Felicity is in love with India and has a dangerous affair of her own, with an Indian man.

That's three love stories. The last two are different kinds of love stories, love between mother and child. Throughout the novel, I was impressed with the bond between Evie and her son, Billy. The book really shows how strong a mother's love is and how far she will go for her child. I loved Billy and his, "Aw, nuts." What a cute kid.

Adela experiences motherhood in her own way... with a child not of her blood. The bond is there, nevertheless.

In the middle of all these wonderful stories is the story of India.. of British rule, of Ghandi, of Partition and the chaos resulting from it. Partition was when Britain withdrew their rule and divided the country between Hindus and Muslims, India and Pakistan. I found myself pondering this... Is it better to live divided and possibly breed hate and resentment or to live together and learn to love one another?

I found this educational regarding Indian history and I felt the book had a strong moral throughout: Whether in relationships or life in general, life is what you MAKE IT. You have a choice: live with joy and forgiveness or live with hate and resentment.

Four stars only because Adela's journal entries were dull at times.

I received this ARC from the publisher.


  1. I read Elle Newmark's earlier book and quite liked it! I also really enjoy readng books set in India so will definitely keep an eye out for this one.

  2. I have never read this author before but I will be on the look out for her from now on.