Under the Jewelled Sky was an enjoyable read. Sophie is instantly likable as a main character and the book has a fast pace that makes it a quick and fun read. It's obvious the author has a passion for India, as the beauty of the setting comes off clearly on every page. McQueen is good at this kind of broad theme writing, as the decadence of the Maharaja and the absurdity of British diplomatic high society are also dealt with well. I closed this book with a desire to visit India for myself.
Whilst I liked the themes of the book, particularly the issue of children born to parents of different race at this time, I wanted the book to be a bit more gritty than it was. It left me with a nice cosy feeling (which is fine), but the skeptic in me was hesitant to believe all of the positive events. For example, I couldn't believe that Sophie's mixed race child would even have been found by Jag's family in the carnage of Partition, let alone accepted so unequivocally by all family members. McQueen does spend quite a bit of time writing about partition (one character is caught up in a camp), but I never truly felt the horror of the events. The writing was very good, but I was seeking more balance and the positive atmosphere meant I was never scared for Sophie, even when events took a turn for the worse. There was this sense that everything was pre-destined.
Despite this, Under the Jewelled Sky was perfect escapism. It contains a good story set in an interesting setting, so is bound to appeal to fans of historical fiction.
Source: From the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.
Published: 25th April 2013
Score: 3.5 out of 5.
Thanks to the publisher, Orion Books, I am able to offer a giveaway of ten new women's fiction hardbacks. The prize will include Under the Jewelled Sky as well as the latest books by Erica James and Kate Mosse. As the giveaway is hosted by the publisher, entrants must have a UK or Ireland address. You don't have to be a blogger. To enter, simply fill out the form below: