Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Manu by Christopher Nicole

ManuThis is a historical fiction that educates the reader about Indian  history. Told from the POV of an Englishwoman, widowed from her missionary husband, it tells of the British occupation of India and a strong woman who dared to rule, Manu.

The story begins with Emma in England, caught for thieving and accused of murder. Her only way out is to marry a missionary who is traveling to India. She is not allowed back in England for ten years. Little does she know that that ten years will actually become a much longer period due to her own desires.

Presented with an opportunity to be a governess to an Indian princess, she takes it. And she "goes native." At first, things are rough. The prince is a homosexual, the princess thinks she is a warrior and threatens to place Emma naked on an anthill-something to that effect. And of course, the British rule with a condescending attitude.

The big guy finally dies, no heir in sight except for an adopted child that the British refuse to acknowledge. Manu, the princess takes over and leads her men into battle. I liked this:

"I will throw their heads at your feet," Risaldar promised. (a soldier)
"I will throw their heads at my own feet," Manu declared. (hell, yea)

Emma discovers that despite the fact she loves Manu, hates what the British has done, has an Indian husband, is now wearing saris, and has a half Indian child, she somewhat ponders going back to England. Now it may be too late. She's also very busy playing go-between as the English don't believe Manu is fit to rule and attempt to control her in every way they can.

Well told, but seriously lacking emotional depth. Also lots of long dialogue bits. Thought told from Emma's POV, she really doesn't have much emotion. That surprised me. Also found her surprisingly agreeable to just about anything and that didn't fit in with the character we were first introduced to.

I liked it, however. Three stars. I received this from the publisher.

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