Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Namaste. India brings to mind, exotic spices, bright colors, crowded places, curry laden food, and varied religions. India is a rich mixture of cultures containing a very complex history. The Sandalwood Tree brings the reader to India in 1947 when Gandhi is leading the quest to see the British Raj ousted from the land and the Partition of India is taking place. There are Muslim refugees migrating to the new Islamic Pakistan and the Hindu refugees are being forced to move south into what will remain India.
The Sandalwood Tree that grows in South India is a threatened species found near the mountainous areas. Evie and Martin live outside of Simla, a mountian village, in a small bungalow and they have a sandalwood tree in their front yard. Evie finds a loose brick in her kitchen and uncovers a few hidden letters written by Felicia Chadwick and Adele Winfield from 100 years earlier. Thus begins of story of the tree that binds together the lives of these people and mirrors the threatened way of life in India in 1947 as well as the threats from 1857.
Newmark has taught me so much about India and has made me want to visit there. I love how she brought alive the culture and all the different religions combined with the privileged British class and the movement of Gandhi's new India developing. The dual storyline was invigorating and powerful, I couldn't wait to find out what happened in both time periods.
My recommendation is to go get a henna tattoo, a cup of chai tea (yum) and pick up The Sandalwood Tree. This book will transport you to India where your senses will go wild, your heart will beat loudly and a monkey will steal your sunglasses.