From Publishers Weekly
In this sequel to A Singular Hostage
, native Bostonian and Muslim convert Ali continues the saga of Marianna Givens, a young Englishwoman living in 19th-century India. Though competently written and often entertaining, the novel feels like exoticism cloaked as historical fiction (the prologue delivers a taste of what's to come: in Calcutta, Marianna encounters a Hindu soothsayer who points his "authoritative, brown hand away from the crowd" and tells her that her "path lies to the northwest" and that she "must return there to find [her] destiny"). Marianna casts her lot with the Sufi family of Shaikh Waliullah as she marries his son, the Punjabi courtier, Hassan Ali Khan. She flees to Calcutta with Hassan's infant son, Saboor, to protect him from the opium-addicted Maharajah of Punjab. After two years in exile, Marianna travels back to Lahore to give Saboor to his father, divorce Hassan and return to respectable British society. Ali convincingly captures both Victorian-era Punjabi and British court culture, and her description of the conniving ineptitude of the British as they travel across the subcontinent humanizes them. Upon arriving in Lahore, the traveling party finds itself caught between warring Punjabi factions. The conclusion, in which Marianna predictably displays a redemptive heroism, sets up for the final book in this trilogy, slated for release in 2005.
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From School Library Journal
Adult/High School–In this sequel to A Singular Hostage
(Bantam, 2002), Mariana Givens, a tempestuous Englishwoman, is sent to India to find a husband from the surfeit of bachelor British officers there. Two years have passed since her disastrous first visit, when her reputation was ruined by her marriage to a wealthy Punjabi, Hassan. She is devoted to his son Saboor, whom she rescued from kidnappers and has been sheltering. The revelation that the marriage was never consummated affords Mariana the chance to restore her good name: once in Lahore she can return Saboor to his father, request a divorce, and proceed to Afghanistan with her aunt and uncle and the rest of the British entourage. But she again falls under the spell of Hassan and his family, and decides to stay with him. Amid fighting following the death of the maharajah, Mariana goes to tell her aunt and uncle of her decision and returns to find him gravely wounded. This mid-19th-century adventure story contrasts the richness of Islam and its strict laws regarding women with the equally rigid societal norms of privileged, upper-class British. The characters and their actions illustrate the barriers between cultures and the difficulty of establishing trust among peoples with different worldviews. The engaging ending suggests another installment to come.–Molly Connally, Chantilly Regional Library, VA
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