Wednesday, May 18, 2011

East of the Sun

East of the Sun by Julia Gregson
Published:  2008 by Touchstone, a Division of Simon and Schuster
Source:  Purchased

  East of the Sun tells the story of three young women travelling from England to India in the late 1920s in search of new lives.  For two of the women, Rose and Victoria (known as Tor, which seemed like an absurd nickname to me), this meant finding and marrying a good man; for their shipboard chaperone, Viva, it meant returning to the country of her childhood, uncovering family secrets, and making a fresh start as a writer.
  I suppose Viva is meant to be the main character of the novel, as she takes on chaperoning Rose and Tor (as well as a disturbed schoolboy, Guy Glover) to India in order to pay her own passage to retrieve a trunk of her parents left with a family friend.  However, Rose and Tor's stories receive almost as much attention -- Rose preparing for marriage to a British military man and Tor trying to line up her own betrothal in order to avoid returning to England -- and it felt to me that their narratives overshadowed that of Viva's.  It's also interesting to me that Guy Glover didn't receive his own narrative; he appears throughout the novel, but he is never truly explained and remains a mysterious character.

  There is a bit of everything in this book -- romance, mystery, violence -- and it does provide a sensual portrait of India in the 1920s and 1930s (my favorite aspect of the book) -- but to me it doesn't seem put together well, making it difficult to follow at times.  If I hadn't selected this book as one of my 2011 TBR Pile Challenge choices, I probably would not have finished it. 


  1. I was supposed to review this book last year for Library Thing, and it was very late in showing up. I do hope to eventually read it, because India during that time period fascinates me. Great review!

  2. I don't remember a lot about this book, but I gave it 5 stars (I checked on my Shelfari account). I agree with the name Tor, though). I wrote about the book: "The book really evoked the right atmosphere (or how I imagine it to be): typical English behavior and language, the 1920s, India, men-women relationships. "

    A pity you didn't like it more.

  3. After I thought about it more I realized that I didn't much like any of the characters so I think that is what colored my overall impression of the book. I do agree that it evoked the atmosphere of colonial India -- good and bad.

  4. there is something about books set in India that i just adore. africa does the same for me.

    i hadn't heard of this book before. it sounds interesting, so it's a bummer that it didn't work out for you.

  5. I love to read reviews of great books, but it is also nice to hear that some books should just be crossed off the wishlist, dropped from the TBR. Thank you!


What do you think? Good or bad, I'd love to hear from you (but be nice - I'm sensitive!)