Rating – 3 stars
Alison McQueen’ Under the Jeweled Sky is the story of star-crossed lovers Jag and Sophie who while meant for each other, couldn’t have met at a less opportune time. Their paths cross in an India which is going under a drastic change – an India that is finally getting a chance to rid itself of the shackles of a forced anarchy in more than one ways. They cross paths in the India of 1947, finding its way into liberation from the British Monarchy and coming into its own as an independent nation and not a British Colony.
The daughter of a doctor, called upon to serve at a maharaja’ palace, Sophie arrives in India with her parents after a bombing in London has destroyed their home and everything they could hold dear. While Sophie and her father Dr. Schofield couldn’t be any more thrilled with the opportunity to start over and discover a land they have heard so much about, her mom Veronica doesn’t spare any chance she gets to humiliate her husband and remind him he has dumped his family in a godless land which she absolutely abhors.
The constant fight between her parents has Sophie affected so much she practically lives in a shell. While she is adored by her father beyond anything, her mother couldn’t despise her more. Its in India that Sophie discovers Jag, the son of one of the maharaja’ bearers and her life changes as the young couple become friends and eventually fall in love. A love which is doomed from the onset.
Ten years after they part ways, Sophie returns to an India, she can’t recognize and memories she can’t forget and once again crosses paths with Jag, now as a married woman – the wife of one of the British Diplomats.
Reading this book was like watching one of those old Bollywood movies, my parents grew up on and eventually so did I. The forbidden love affair, the rich and magnificent locations, the doomed lovers, their reunion and the bittersweet ending to their story. McQueen has done a fine job with the pair and I liked the writing upto a certain degree, may be I am biased but my ratings are also colored by the fact that I couldn’t stand certain things written about India. Its certainly not an ideal place, but which country is? Across the globe, people can come from the most promising and affluent nations and still have problems with their government and the people – the lack of amenities and economic conditions to name a few. No nation is perfect, no matter how its painted as per my POV.
McQueen’ being born to an Indian mother, has the nuisances of the Indian culture right and while I was smitten with the rich imagery she painted with her words of the palace and the turbulence at the time of partition especially the riots that took place and the plight of the refugees, I simply couldn’t stand the parts of the different maharani’ that I had to encounter time and again and their silliness.
The fact that I was also given an ARC which needed major edits, making it a sure way to get a headache each time I started on the book didn’t help the book score points with me either. Hence the rating.
Recommended to people who might be interested in a cross-cultural romance.
I was provided an ARC via Netgalley and SOURCEBOOKS Landmark, this review is in no way influenced and is solely based on my opinion.