By: Valerie Fitzgerald
Rated: 5 Stars
An outstanding tale of Laura the poor relation on a journey to India with her newly married cousin Emily, Emily's husband Charles (who Laura thought herself in love with), and Charles' half brother Oliver Erskine, a Zemindar, or large land holder. I liked that neither Laura or Oliver are out and out drop dead good looking, just strong, honorable people we come to care about.
A time or two I thought maybe that Laura was just a little bit too good to be true but them I remembered Isabella Bird and decided that maybe she was just cut from the same cloth. Victorian ladies in literature have a tendency to be either simpering idiots or indomitable women as tough as nails.
Naturally Oliver and Laura fall in love. After a harrowing escape from Oliver's estate they make their way to Lucknow. Along the way the author sets up her stage to the Sepoy rebellion an the seige at Lucknow in Northern India. Oliver and Laura are separated at Lucknow where after guiding the party to safety Oliver leaves to make sure some of his other people escape to safety. When they part Oliver said to Laura, "I will come back to you, for you". Shades of Hawkeye (Last of the Mohicans) where he tells Cora "No matter how long it takes, no matter how far, I will find you." *sniffle*
The rest of the book follows the harrowing conditions at the residency at Lucknow during the seige, the battles, deaths and brutal conditions suffered by the British. Be warned that this was a very brutal rebellion and some of the scenes described, although accurate, can be a bit gory, but important history to be reminded of and the mistakes that were made by ignorant pompous officials and the brutalities committed on both sides due to hate, ignorance and prejudice. It's unfortunate that we do not learn well from history and things are still so much the same in the Middle East in our present time.