Today I hand over to Mandie once more for a review of East of India by Erica Brown as part of the blog tour. Thanks to Ellie Pilcher at Canelo for inviting us to take part in the tour and for providing an advance copy for review. We’ll take a look at Mandie’s thoughts just as soon as we’ve seen what the book is all about.
About the Book
India, 1940. When Nadine learns that the Indian woman she thought her nanny is, in fact, her mother, she rebels against her English father and he arranges for her to be wed to an Australian merchant many years older. She is whisked off to her new husband’s plantation in Malaya but as the Second World War rages throughout the East, Nadine is taken captive by the Japanese. She is held at a camp in Sumatra with other women and forced to entertain the soldiers and satisfy their desires. In the most unlikely circumstances, Nadine finds an ally and protector in a Japanese—American major caught up in the war. The two bond over their conflicted identities and gradually fall in love. But can Nadine survive long enough to find happiness?
Don’t miss this emotional and powerful saga about a woman’s determination to beat the odds, perfect for fans of Renita D’Silva, Dinah Jefferies and Julia Gregson.
I love history and historical fiction is always a firm favourite. East of India takes us to India in 1940 where it is still very much governed by the British, Malaya and Sumatra. I will have to admit I have been struggling with the review for this book, not because I didn’t like it but because I wasn’t sure that I could do it justice.
Nadine has led a sheltered life in India. Her mother died when she was a baby so she has been brought up by a local Indian woman who she became very close to. When she comes home from school one day to find that her nanny had been dismissed that is when her world comes crashing down around her. She finds out her father has been lying to her all her life and the woman she had always believed to be her nanny was in fact her mother. From then on she is determined to embrace her Indian heritage that leads her to the inevitable clash with her father. In his determination to protect his reputation and hide her true parentage he marries her off to one of his friends who has a plantation in Malaya. This action changes Nadine’s life forever.
For me the story really started to get going and gather pace once Nadine had been captured by the Japanese Army and imprisoned at Sumatra. Whilst I am not totally convinced someone as young as Nadine would be quite as tenacious and resourceful in the face of the Japanese Army, I am sure that during this time there were women just like her that did whatever it took to stay alive and make it through that terrible time. The author managed to convey all the horrors that the women had to both witness and endure without being too graphic. You know the women are being raped and tortured but at no time does the author go into detail of the actual events.
There is also a love story going on throughout this between Nadine and one of her captors Major Genda Shamida. He is there more by circumstance than choice. Originally from the US he was visiting his grandparents when the war broke out and out of a sense of duty and family honour he joined the Japanese Army. Whilst he does not agree with what his superiors are doing at the camp he is unable to do anything to prevent it as he knows that it would only make the situation worse and end up with him being killed. Whilst you can never condone the treatment of prisoners of war by their captors, there will always be those like Genda who did not agree with what they were made to do, but had to do it as it was an order from a superior officer and to disobey was not an option.
Don’t let the picture on the cover of this book fool you. The story is by no means cosy but deals with some real issues that many had to face during the war. Often the stories of what the women in P.O.W camps are not written about. Erica Brown has managed to capture this in a sensitive way that lets you feel what they went through. East of India is a thoroughly enjoyable book that I would recommend to anyone who loves historical fiction.
Thanks Mandie. If you’d like to pick up a copy of East of India then it is available at the following links.
About the Author
Erica Brown is the pseudonym of a very successful author of women’s fiction and crime. She lives in Bath and has one daughter and twin grandchildren one of whom is dead set on becoming a writer.
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