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:

teatime for the fireflyLayla 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!


  1. Amy on June 16, 2014 at 8:58 am

    “The Betrayal of the Blood Lily”, of course! However, in all honesty, I do believe that is the only book I’ve read that’s been set in India.

  2. Celia on June 16, 2014 at 9:01 am

    There are so many books set in India to choose from! Obviously I enjoyed your The Betrayal of the Blood Lily, and I read Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie not too long ago and really liked it.

    My favorite are the books that someone presses into your hands while saying, “You *must* read this.”

  3. jeffrey on June 16, 2014 at 9:26 am

    Why, The Betrayal of the Blood Lily, of course. I knew so little about colonial India that the book was a revelation to me. And, I loved the character of Miss Penelope who was both tough and tender in one seductive package!

  4. Céline on June 16, 2014 at 9:29 am

    Well…. The Betrayal of the Blood Lily, obviously!!!! I fell in love with Penelope and Alex in this books and it ranks among my favourite Pink books… 🙂

    • Céline on June 16, 2014 at 9:30 am

      Sorry for the typos… I hurt one finger yesterday and am having a hard time typing correctly…

      • Lauren on June 16, 2014 at 10:38 am

        Poor you! Feel better…. I have a splint on my right hand right now, so I feel your pain.

        • Céline on June 16, 2014 at 11:10 am

          We should create a club!!! 🙂
          Can you type with a splinter in one finger? Must hurt… 🙁

  5. Joanne M. on June 16, 2014 at 9:56 am

    As everyone mentioned, The Betrayal of the Blood Lily was so good, and I happen to love books set in India. Zemindar by Valerie Fitzgerald is wonderful, as well as M. M. Kaye’s Shadow of the Moon and Rebecca Ryman’s Olivia and Jai.

  6. Liz on June 16, 2014 at 10:07 am

    I really enjoyed East of the Sun by Julia Gregson…traces the journey of three young Englishwomen–2 friends and their chaperone–as they travel to India in the waning days of colonial imperialism and make a life for themselves. Loved the romances each of them experience and how they have to grow up and become their own women.

    • Joanne M. on June 16, 2014 at 10:33 am

      This sounds fascinating, Liz. Going to add it to my summer reading list!

      • Lauren on June 16, 2014 at 10:38 am

        I second Liz’s rec! I really enjoyed “East of the Sun”.

  7. Katelyn on June 16, 2014 at 10:43 am

    You really can’t go wrong with M.M.Kaye, but how to choose between Shadow of the Moon and The Far Pavillions? It simply can’t be done; they’re both just amazing.

  8. Susan G on June 16, 2014 at 10:50 am

    Betrayal of the Blood Lily is one of my favorites.
    Will add East of the Sun to my list.

  9. Catie on June 16, 2014 at 10:55 am

    I recently read “The Namesake” for a library town-wide reading event. Makes me interested in reading more about this fascinating culture!

  10. Kayse on June 16, 2014 at 10:55 am

    I just read Lucinda Riley’s “the Midnight Rose,” part of which is set in colonial India. It was very good!

    • Sharlene Martin Moore on June 16, 2014 at 2:02 pm

      I have the book on my TBR list. I loved her Orchid House book.

  11. Brenda on June 16, 2014 at 10:55 am

    I can’t really decide between Shadow of the Moon and Blood Lily, but that might have something to due with the fact that I associate them together in the same way that I associate Rebecca with Jane Eyre; they have similar elements, atmospheres, and evoke the same emotions but they are both just so awesome in their own ways.

  12. MJ on June 16, 2014 at 11:02 am

    I don’t think I have read one but it sounds like I need to read both Betrayal of the Blood Lily and East of the Sun.

  13. Daniele Krug on June 16, 2014 at 11:19 am

    The Last Kashmiri Rose. Obviously, I need to hurry up and read Blood Lily.

  14. julieojewel on June 16, 2014 at 11:21 am

    Ooh, I’ll have to add M.M.Kaye to the list, I really did enjoy how you explored India in BBL and it’s been awhile, but I did enjoy the way E.M. Forster wrote as well. I’ll admit I saw the movies first, but my college reading was devoted to more dense history than english lit.

  15. Ashley on June 16, 2014 at 11:30 am

    My favorite is “The Far Pavilions,” although “Shadow of the Moon” was great too. M.M. Kaye kicked off a fascination with India for me – a friend on GoodReads noticed and recommended “The Palace of Illusions” by Chitra Divakaruni. It was awesome too.

    Doesn’t Michelle Moran have a book set in India coming out this year?

    “Teatime for the Firefly” is one I’ve wanted to read for a while now. I’m glad it’s good!

  16. Meredith A on June 16, 2014 at 11:34 am

    Currently reading MM Kaye’s Trade Winds (very good), but my favourite India-set book is, of course, Betrayal of the Blood Lily.

  17. Diane on June 16, 2014 at 11:35 am

    The Far Pavilions and Shadow of the Moon by MM Kaye. These book sparked a interest in India years ago. I am looking into tours of India. Hope to feel the magic of India soon!

  18. Mary D. on June 16, 2014 at 11:42 am

    I’m going to have to read The Betrayal of the Blood Lily! Stephanie Laurens’ Black Cobra quartet all start off in India, and then the four officers make their way back to England.

  19. Pam on June 16, 2014 at 11:50 am

    I loved Blood Lily and also really, really enjoyed Deanna Raybourn’s Dark Road to Darjeeling. For something completely different, The White Tiger (Aravind Adiga) is set in modern India and won the Booker Prize a few years ago–I liked that one quite a bit. I loved the Jewel in the Crown miniseries and want to read the Raj Quartet someday, and I’m ashamed to say I’ve not yet read any M.M. Kaye…

  20. Barbara Hansen on June 16, 2014 at 11:51 am

    M. M. Kaye’s “Shadow of the Moon” and your “The Betrayal of the Blood Lily”. I had surgery on my right hand last week, need reading material since “That Summer” only lasted a day!

  21. Christine on June 16, 2014 at 11:52 am

    I can’t think of any I’ve read other than Blood Lily, but I did recently watch The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and that was a lot of fun.

  22. Ella on June 16, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    The only one I’ve read is Blood Lily, which was wonderful. Had never thought to read an India set novel before.
    This book is on my to read list now.

  23. Barbara Jones on June 16, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    Any of the M M Kaye books set in India. The Far Pavilions, Death in Kashmir, Death in the Andamans….all wonderful!

  24. Rachel Adrianna on June 16, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    I feel like I should have a handful of titles to recommend here, but Blood Lily is the only one that I can think of. But I also LOVE the Richard Sharpe books and film adaptations, some of which are set in India.

  25. Bridget on June 16, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    East of the Sun by Julia Grigson

  26. jessica nelson on June 16, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    Blood Lily is my favorite.

  27. Whitney Jennings on June 16, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    I recently was asked to read Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse for a class and found it to be a wonderful story. However, prior to it I had only read Betrayal. The author was at the book signing/discussion in Scottsdale and it is always interesting to have multiple authors together to hear their thoughts and experiences with writing.

  28. Mary Lou on June 16, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    Kim, of course. And as a follow-up of sorts, Laurie King’s The Game-a great story of the 1920’s Indian Raj. With spys.

  29. Chartreuse on June 16, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    “Flashman in the Great Game” by George MacDonald Fraser 😉

  30. LynnS on June 16, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    The second book of Sarah A. Hoyt’s Magical British Empire Trilogy, Soul of Fire, is set in India. It’s a great series.

  31. Ashley on June 16, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    It’s a tie between The Betrayal of the Blood Lily and Deanna Raybourn’s Dark Road to Darjeeling

  32. Bekah on June 16, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    Blood Lily of course! I also enjoyed Dark Road to Darjeeling. I haven’t read many novels set in India but this book looks very interesting.

  33. Connie Starkey on June 16, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    “Teatime for the Firefly” has been on my TBR list for quite some time and would be a joy to win! Ahhhh, M.M. Kaye first piqued my interest in India with my reading of “The Far Pavilions” ages ago. Some very good recommendations on these comments…of course I’ve read everything written by Lauren and Deanna Raybourn and recommend those myself.

  34. Shona Patel on June 16, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    I am so excited my book is the featured Give Away. Whoever gets it I hope you enjoy it. Thank you for your kinds words, Lauren. Reposting this on my FB page. Cheers!

    • Lauren on June 18, 2014 at 7:27 pm

      Shona, it was lovely to meet you, and I so enjoyed the book! I’m only sorry we didn’t have a chance to chat more.

  35. bn100 on June 16, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    don’t think I’ve read any yet

  36. Tiffany on June 16, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    Zemindar! I adore this book, and it makes me so sad that this extremely talented author only wrote this book, and no others.
    Thank you for the giveaway!

  37. Jane B on June 16, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    Aside from Betrayal of the Blood Lily? M.M. Kaye’s Shadow of the Moon, I think.

  38. Michelle on June 16, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    I really love Deanna Raybourn’s Dark Road to Darjeeling

  39. Andrea Luciano on June 16, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    As much as I enjoyed Blood Lily and The Far Pavilions, my favorite is the 4 books that make up The Raj Quartet by Paul Scott — The Jewel in the Crown; The Day of the Scorpion; The Tower of Silence; and The Division of the Spoils. These books were the basis of the PBS series “The Jewel in the Crown”,which is one of my favorites.

  40. Alice on June 16, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    Dark Road to Darjeeling by Deanna Raybourn, Zemindar by Valerie Fitzgerald and Sister of My Heart by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.

  41. Jane on June 16, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    Mostly have read nonfiction about India which is a huge departure for me as I normally only read fiction. Books about Gandhi, partition and life of Mother Teresa. Just returned from a 3 week trip in India. Did enjoy Blood Lily as I have all Pink books.

  42. Alexa J on June 16, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    Blood Lily– my favorite of all of the Pink Carnation books!

  43. Betty S. on June 16, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    Have read several of the books mentioned here – of course Betrayal of the Blood Lily and Dark Road to Darjeeling, which I really loved and is so descriptive of India.

    I second Palace of Illusions, which was so intriguing to me.

    Amulya Malladi has two interesting books: Mango Season set in fairly modern day India in which an Indian expat in US returns to India and gets involved in family issues – good insight to life in India and very funny; second is Song of the Cuckoo Bird, entirely different, set in an ashram on the Bay of Bengal.

  44. Tara Jae on June 16, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    The Jungle Book! I read it in college and was horrified at the savage turns conveniently left out of the Disney movie.
    Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies would be next but it’s a short story collection, not a novel.

  45. Marissa on June 16, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    Rather like everyone else, I have read Betrayal of the Blood Lily! 🙂

    But that’s actually about it. I will have to read all of these books everyone else is talking about in August when I have a 3 week break from school!

  46. Joy Elkins on June 16, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    Betrayal of the Blood Lily is my all-time favorite!!

  47. Suzanne on June 16, 2014 at 11:38 pm

    I agree with everybody else in that M.M. Kaye is my favourite. I think that Shadow Of The Moon is one of the most brilliant books I have ever read. I also read Death In Kashmir and Death In The Andamans over and over again. I also love Jon Cleary’s The Faraway Drums and Emma Drummond’s Beyond All Horizons, and the 1st 4 Joe Sandilands mysteries which were set in India in the 1920s.

  48. Pat on June 17, 2014 at 12:00 am

    Flashman and the Great Game was good. So are the first two or three Joe Sandilands books that are set in India, the Kashmiri Rose being the first one.

  49. Sheila on June 17, 2014 at 9:26 am

    Other than Blood Lily? The Far Pavilions, Flashman and the great Game, Zemindar, and I am racking my brain to recall the name of a very long, very good one about the Great Mutiny, an incredibly sad chapter in history that seems forgotten

  50. Dianne on June 17, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    Every once in a while I re-read MM Kaye’s The Shadow of the Moon and since that got me in the mood, I re-read Blood Lily. Oh, and then there is The Far Pavilions…….

  51. Alyssa on June 17, 2014 at 10:59 pm

    Well… like everyone else I do love “The Betrayal of the Blood Lily”. I also loved “Lucky T” by Kate Brian when I was in high school.

  52. Erin G on June 18, 2014 at 10:26 am

    I did enjoy “The Betrayal of the Blood Lily” like everyone else but I very much enjoyed the Dark Road to Darjeeling by Deanna Raybourn.

Leave a Comment