East of the Sun dealt with a new topic for me. The girls who used to go out to India to hopefully look for a husband - crudely put The Fishing Fleet. It also dealt with a lesser known element of women going out to India. Those who had no means of support in England and who felt that a better life was available for them in the form of getting employment as governesses, companions, and teachers.
The story revolves around Rose, Victoria and Viva three completely different women going out to India for three different reasons. Rose the quiet, traditional girl who has already found her partner and is going out to marry him. Her fears and insecurities on the journey out to India are descriptive and very sensitively described. She realises that what started out as a very light hearted journey is one which is very serious indeed and one that is going to change her entire life. On the other hand Tor as Victoria is known is going apparently to be a bridesmaid at Rose's wedding. Delving into her mind we see that she is escaping a tyranical mother and Tor has no intention of ever returning to England and looks upon this trip as a means of getting away from her mother permanently.
In Viva's case getting away from a lover who has treated her badly was the catalyst for the journey which also involves finding out what really happened to her parents who lived and died in India - finding employment is another reason for Viva to move out of England.
The three stories are interwoven and as each one unfolds we see Rose maturing as a young woman who begins to see that life is not just parties, dances and good clothes but that her marriage is something that she has to work on if she wants to make a success of it. For Tor it involves heartbreak once again before she finds love with a man who is more attuned to her though he may not have the money or position which for her was all important when she started her journey. For Viva getting to the bottom of her parents deaths and then finding someone who cares for her is a dream come true.
The book is a light read with a happily ever after kind of story. For someone who likes to read about India and specially India at the time of the English sahibs and their hold on Indian society, this will be a good read as there is a fair amount of description regarding life as lived in this period. An interesting book.
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