When I discover a good book, I like nothing better than to hand it on. Although in this case, it’s disingenuous to say I discovered it, when, in fact, it was handed to me. So consider it a reading chain. The book in question? Shona Patel’s Teatime for the Firefly.
Here’s the official blurb:
Layla Roy has defied the fates.
Despite being born under an inauspicious horoscope, she is raised to be educated and independent by her eccentric grandfather, Dadamoshai. And, by cleverly manipulating the hand fortune has dealt her, she has even found love with Manik Deb—a man betrothed to another. All were minor miracles in India that spring of 1943, when young women’s lives were predetermined—if not by the stars, then by centuries of family tradition and social order.
Layla’s life as a newly married woman takes her away from home and into the jungles of Assam, where the world’s finest tea thrives on plantations run by native labor and British efficiency. Fascinated by this culture of whiskey-soaked expats who seem fazed by neither earthquakes nor man-eating leopards, she struggles to find her place among the prickly English wives with whom she is expected to socialize, and the peculiar servants she now finds under her charge.
But navigating the tea-garden set will hardly be her biggest challenge. Layla’s remote home is not safe from the powerful changes sweeping India on the heels of the Second World War. Their colonial society is at a tipping point, and Layla and Manik find themselves caught in a perilous racial divide that threatens their very lives.
Little known fact: the book after The Ashford Affair was originally going to be set in 1940s India (that’s what it still says in my contract for that book!)– but then I had an idea about a Victorian matron, a Preraphaelite artist, and a lost painting, and That Summer was born.
Reading Teatime for the Firefly makes me rather glad I held off on the 1940s India book since the wealth of detail, the vivid construction of place, make clear to me just how much I have to learn.
So, for a signed copy of Teatime for the Firefly, here’s your question:
— What’s your favorite India-set novel?
Winner to be announced on Wednesday!