I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Eden Gardens by Louise Brown
Published by Headline Review on April 21, 2016
Genres: Fiction, Historical
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Eden Gardens, Calcutta, the 1940s. In a ramshackle house, streets away from the grand colonial mansions of the British, live Maisy, her Mam and their ayah, Pushpa.
Whiskey-fuelled and poverty-stricken, Mam entertains officers in the night - a disgrace to British India. All hopes are on beautiful Maisy to restore their good fortune.
But Maisy's more at home in the city's forbidden alleyways, eating bazaar food and speaking Bengali with Pushpa, than dancing in glittering ballrooms with potential husbands.
Then one day Maisy's tutor falls ill. His son stands in. Poetic, handsome and ambitious for an independent India, Sunil Banerjee promises Maisy the world.
So begins a love affair that will cast her future, for better and for worse. Just as the Second World War strikes and the empire begins to crumble...
This is the other side of British India. A dizzying, scandalous, dangerous world, where race, class and gender divide and rule.
Rather than reading like a story Eden Gardens felt more like a memoir of the time. Which focused on two women Maisy and Pushpa. And which was told alternatively between the thoughts of these two women as the story progressed. Who were different yet the same. Entwined throughout the story.
Looking at the cover I thought that this was going to be a gorgeous swoony historical romance. And it is the impression that I got from the back cover. But I was really really wrong in that regard. This book is told in a brutal honest fashion. Meaning, that any feelings that you felt as a reader were not spared. There were some moments when I couldn’t help but cringe uncomfortably.
Eden Gardens tells of two women trying to find themselves in a city rife with racial discrimination and those with a superiority complex. Set against the intriguing background of the 40’s. We are merged into a wealth of history which cover some significant events of Indian history (the Bengal famine, the Second World War, Partition, assassination of Gandhi, etc). A lot of history is covered so it is unsurprising that it is briefly. But adds to the interest and makes you want to dive more into that history and find out more about these events. For yourself. Because there is something for everyone to learn about. Big or small, I definitely learnt lots of interesting facts throughout this read.
This is a gritty, take no prisoners novel that will lead you through the back streets of Calcutta to give a rich sense of atmosphere and escapism.
Eden Gardens is a well-told historical novel this is a book for anyone with a passion for history. Or is determined to learn more and expand their knowledge of an interesting era of India.