- Book: Black Rock
- Location: Montreal
- Author: John McFetridge
I have always enjoyed this author’s books and this is no exception. I felt transported back to Rajasthan of the 1930s (Rajputana as it then was) when the British were still very much in charge of the country, but rumblings of revolt and dissent were brewing. It is evocative, colourful with wonderful period detail.
Eliza spent her childhood in India until her father was murdered, whereupon she and her mother returned to England. But once grown up – following a rocky marriage, which ended with her husband’s untimely death – she is drawn back to the country of her early years. She is absolutely determined to become a photographer and indeed finds herself a job recording daily life in and around fictional Juraipur, both at court and charting the brutally poor lives of those outside the palace walls.
Anish is the Maharaja, governing with the support of those around him who have their own agendas. His younger brother Jayant Singh Rathore, with his kind, amber eyes, is the handsome member of the family, a man with a more moral eye than others. He sees the utter poverty beyond his palace and knows that he has to do something to alleviate the situation.
Eliza and he soon find themselves spending quite some time together and discover a growing attraction to each other. She however is not deemed a suitable partner for him because she is divorced. A divorced woman is a shameful thing, bringing ill-luck to those around (and indeed the practice of Suttee, whereby a widow is expected to throw herself on the funeral pyre alongside her dead husband was still being practised; it was technically outlawed by British rule). Of course Eliza is also white, traditionally the ruling princes would find suitable matches amongst their own.
Intrigue at court, tradition and Eliza’s ailing, alcoholic mother back home in England soon put paid to this burgeoning romance. Neither Eliza nor Jay, however, can quite let go. As the heat ramps up, the cooling effect of the monsoon rains are keenly awaited… will their ardour cool? To find out how this romance ends, you will need to buy the book.
This is a touching love story, set against a beautifully rendered backdrop. If you have visited Rajasthan, you will gain from this book a little more understanding about the period and about how the country has become what it is today. Highly recommended.
And on this link we are talking to the author about her research for locale, with lots of fab photos