Wednesday, October 13, 2010
I don't have much of an excuse for being so glaringly absent--though that doesn't stop me from trying to make one anyway. Say it was the hibernation sickness that's coming on with the cold weather, say it was the baking of apple pies, say it was the sewing and cleaning--pick one. It doesn't matter, I've just been enjoying life quite a bit and unfortunately my hands haven't touched the keyboard.
Instead, I've just finished this book given to me by my friend Kathryn who said it was one of her favorites.
Now don't let that smokin' 80s cover put you off--it's a fabulous book. Have you read Gone with the Wind? The Far Pavillions? Forever Amber? Then you'll like this one. It takes its place among other epics where love is caught in the midst of political turmoil and you follow along for 700+ pages wanting to know how the heroine will get her guy and get out alive.
Zemindar follows our girl, Laura Hewitt, as she accompanies her rather rich and snobby newlywed cousin to India for her honeymoon (yes, it's odd and the new bridegroom is there too but apparently that was Victorian England for you). Mrs. Flood (cousin Emily) had snagged Mr. Flood from Laura's affections earlier and now the three of them are visiting India to see if they can't get his half-brother, Oliver Erskine, to make Charles Flood the heir to his immense estate.
The year is 1857 and for all of you Indian history buffs out there, you'll recognize that as the date of the famous sepoy mutiny where the British army (staffed with Indian recruits) mutinied on the British in a rather bloody way. All the English in the area ran for safety to the towns of Cawnapore and Lucknow where they gathered together for a good long siege while the Indians tried to get at them and drive their oppressors from their land.
So you can probably see the plot set up: Laura still loves Charles even though he's now married to her nasty little cousin Emily but then she meets Oliver who is rather arrogant and dashing and then the political problems begin and the whole place blows up. Will Laura realize Charles is a complete dud? Will she recognize Oliver as the man of her dreams? Will Emily get her come-uppance? Will they all survive the mutiny?
It's like Gone with the Wind except here you like the heroine rather than despise her. Sweeping vistas, honor and shame, romance and tragedy--it's all there on the menu but with a vocabulary, diction, voice and development that makes you tip your hat to Fitzgerald's excellent writing skills. I'm not sure why the book is no longer in print because it's a gem.