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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Sandalwood Tree by Elle Newmark (Book Review)

Title: The Sandalwood Tree
Author: Elle Newmark
Publisher: Atria Books

From incredible storyteller and nationally bestselling author Elle Newmark comes a rich, sweeping novel that brings to life two love stories, ninety years apart, set against the backdrop of war-torn India.

In 1947, an American anthropologist named Martin Mitchell wins a Fulbright Fellowship to study in India. He travels there with his wife, Evie, and his son, determined to start a new chapter in their lives. Upon the family’s arrival, though, they are forced to stay in a small village due to violence surrounding Britain’s imminent departure from India. It is there, hidden behind a brick wall in their colonial bungalow, that Evie discovers a packet of old letters that tell a strange and compelling story of love and war involving two young Englishwomen who lived in the very same house in 1857.

Drawn to their story, Evie embarks on a mission to uncover what the letters didn’t explain. Her search leads her through the bazaars and temples of India as well as the dying society of the British Raj. Along the way, a dark secret is exposed, and this new and disturbing knowledge creates a wedge between Evie and her husband. Bursting with lavish detail and vivid imagery of Bombay and beyond, The Sandalwood Tree is a powerful story about betrayal, forgiveness, fate, and love.

My thoughts: This book grabbed me from the very beginning.  I loved the way that it wove together the events Evie was experiencing (in 1947)  with the letters, lives and loves of Adela and Felicity, the two Englishwomen from the 1850's. Evie was unhappy in her marriage currently, and escaped into the world from the 1850's.  After discovering the packet of letters, she started searching the house for more information as well as the local church for any written history that might have been left behind.  She is amazed by what she finds.  As a reader, you get more of the story than Evie does through the letters, as sometimes it changes to a first person account from Felicity and Adela.  This was not confusing in any way and the story seemed to move effortlessly between the two eras. 

There are a few different love stories that evolve throughout the book - and I don't think I expected any of them to transpire the way that they did.  There was a lot of mystery surrounding these love stories as well. Early on in the story, Evie mentions her son's love for his stuffed dog and alludes to trouble this dog brings later.  Everytime the dog came up in the story, I was holding my breath waiting for something to happen!  I loved that suspense.

I enjoyed this book tremendously  and hope to get a chance to read the author's first book, The Book of Unholy Mischief!

~I received a copy of this book from Pump Up Your Book tours in exchange for my review. ~


About the author:  Elle Newmark is an award-winning writer whose books ar einspired by her travels.  She and her husband, a retired physician, have two grown children and five grandchildren.  They live in the hills north of San Diego. 

You can find her at her website: http://ellenewmark.com/ (where you can also read the first chapter), and on Facebook.

The Sandalwood Tree: A Novel
Publisher/Publication Date:  Atria Books, April 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4165-9059-0
357 pages

2 comments:

Book Dilettante said...

I also enjoyed this book, especially the historical information and the stories of the two women!

I invite you and your readers to also visit my blog for a giveaway of SECRET DAUGHTER by Shilpi Somaya Gowda, a California writer. Secret Daughter giveaway

Wanda said...

Thanks for the review, Kristi. I've heard nothing but positive things about this book so far, I'm sure this is one I would also enjoy.

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