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Kashmir Shawl Paperback – March 1, 2012
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*Starred Review* Sorting through her parents’ possessions after their deaths, Mair Ellis discovers a Kashmir shawl that once belonged to her Welsh grandmother, Nerys Watkins. Nestled within the folds of this exquisite handwoven piece is an envelope containing a single lock of hair. Curiosity drives Mair to trace the history of the shawl, a quest that takes her from Wales to India. As she pieces together her grandmother’s past, the two women’s stories intertwine, transporting the reader between the Kashmir of WWII and the present day. The bulk of the novel belongs to Nerys, a missionary’s wife whose undemonstrative husband urges her to spend the winter in Srinigar with a friend while he spreads Christianity in remote settlements. Nerys is forever changed in this romantic city, blossoming in an illicit affair while being swept up in the dangerous unraveling of another’s. The consequences resurface nearly seven decades later, leaving Mair with a life-altering decision. An avid traveler and thorough researcher, Thomas brings the flavors and colors of India to life with vivid detail and develops characters so real one feels a kinship. An engrossing, intelligent, and satisfying read, this publication is the American debut of a UK best-seller. --Diane Holcomb --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
`A spellbinding tale. Beautifully written, honest and compassionate'Daily Express`An epic tale...A complicated entanglement of family secrets, love during wartime and dangerous liaisons. For fans of Maggie O'Farrell'Red`A superbly written novel, marvellously descriptive and especially evocative of the war years . . . a gorgeous treat' Choice`Thomas' portrayal of a young wife struggling to cope with life in wartime Kashmir, her husband's indifference to her and her attraction to a charismatic mountaineer is beautifully written, touching and believable' The Daily Express`A superbly researched and vivid evocation of wartime Kashmir and Ladakh' Daily Mail
Top customer reviews
I've always enjoyed reading about Colonial India and its relationships with neighboring states. I located most of the locations mentioned in the book on a world map, and followed Nerys and Mair's journeys with great interest. This was my first book by this author, and I was impressed with how thoroughly she researches her history. To enjoy a book and actually learn a little bit about history is a great combination. The characters were richly drawn, with the women seemingly stronger than the men. Caroline's and Nerys's romantic affairs were treated with dignity no matter what the outcome, or the reasons behind them. The men were for the most part very stiff, caught up in their own roles of the Raj in that period of history. Then again, the book is more about the women left behind than the military battles of that time. If the final link between the past and present stories was a little implausible, it did allow for the story to finally wind down, with an expected and pleasant ending.
Seven years of employment in a bookstore have taught me that many novels labeled and located in the "romance" section are actually just good historical fiction. I encourage anyone who enjoys a good book, a la Maeve Binchy and Kate Morton (to name a few) to try this one.
This book holds my interest as the story is a gentle tale of a woman finding her roots and exploring the the history of a grandmother's life in a foreign country. The contrast of the luxury living of her grandmother's new friends and the austere life of a missionary's wife is compelling.
I am enjoying the way the book weaves the grandmother's (Nerys) story with the present day journey of the young woman (Mair) in finding who she really is - a journey of history, discovery and culture and of love.