Under the Jeweled Sky
By Alison McQueen
Release Date: January 21, 2014
Source: Blog TourSummary: London 1957. In a bid to erase her past and build the family she yearns for, Sophie Schofield accepts a wedding proposal from ambitious British diplomat, Lucien Grainger. When he is posted to New Delhi, into the glittering circle of ex-pat high society, old wounds begin to break open as she is confronted with the memory of her first, forbidden love and its devastating consequences.
The suffocating conformity of diplomatic life soon closes in on her. This is not the India she fell in love with ten years before when her father was a maharaja’s physician, the India of tigers and scorpions and palaces afloat on shimmering lakes; the India that ripped out her heart as Partition tore the country in two, separating her from her one true love. The past haunts her still, the guilt of her actions, the destruction it wreaked upon her fragile parents, and the boy with the tourmaline eyes.
Sophie had never meant to come back, yet the moment she stepped onto India’s burning soil as a newlywed wife, she realised her return was inevitable. And so begins the unravelling of an ill-fated marriage, setting in motion a devastating chain of events that will bring her face to face with a past she tried so desperately to forget, and a future she must fight for.
A story of love, loss of innocence, and the aftermath of a terrible decision no one knew how to avoid.
Review: I'm so ashamed to admit this, but I really didn't think I would enjoy this novel going into it. Yeah, the cover is absolutely gorgeous, but was I really going to enjoy a story that took place in India in the 1940s and 1950s, where India is fighting for its independence? Well, with such complex characters and strong romance, there was no way I couldn't fall in love with this story.
When her father moves their family to India in order to take on the position as a physician to a maharaja, Sophie finds herself all alone in a grand, endless castle. So when she meets Jag, a young boy whose father is one of the many servants for the maharaja, they immediately become friends. What Sophie doesn't expect, though, is to fall in love. But their love isn't allowed, and Sophie and Jag are torn apart. 10 years later, Sophie is married to a London diplomat who is posted to New Delhi. Back in the land that stole her heart so long ago, Sophie is forced to look back on her life and face the actions that have haunted her ever since she left her beloved India.
When I read historical romances, they're almost all in Victorian England with rogues and rakes and scandalous kisses in the garden. I haven't had much experience with other kinds of historical romances, and if they're anything like Under the Jeweled Sky, I'm definitely missing out. I absolutely loved this book and how much depth went into the characters and their lives in India. The novel switches from Sophie's life as a young girl in the 1940s and her life as a woman in the 1950s. This format of portraying Sophie's story is powerful in showing how much she was affected by her past actions, and how much she grows as a woman. Sophie is such a strong and emotional character, and Jag brings out the best in her, despite her unloving mother and the harsh criticisms of Indian society. Sophie's relationship with Jag is so heart wrenching and is an experience they could never, ever forget.
Since this is historical, the context in which the story takes place is so detrimental to Sophie and Jag's life. The country is going through so many changes, and Jag has to fight to survive while Sophie lives the privileged life as a British citizen. As Sophie grows older, she starts to realize how shallow the diplomatic British life is compared to an authentic Indian life the ones she loves most live. With such conflicted feelings, Sophie has to stop and look at what is really important in life.
There is so much emotion in this book and so much depth to the story and characters. By the end, I was on the verge of tears to how Sophie and Jag's lives had played out, and how they have to deal with the traumas life throws their way. There are so many moments that had me flying through the words, dying to figure out what was going to happen to them next. If you're looking for a story of love and loss, with the complexity of historical and social stigmas thrown in that truly test the main characters, then you must pick up Under the Jeweled Sky.
About the Author
Born to an Indian mother and an English jazz musician father, Alison McQueen grew up in London. After a convent education, Alison worked in advertising for 25 years before retiring to write full time.
In 2006 she was selected from an impressive long list to join The Writer’s Circle, a group of 8 top writers to be groomed by the UK film industry as the new generation of British screenwriters. She has written seven novels, including Under the Jeweled Sky and The Secret Children, which was inspired by her life.