This was a book I read about on Serena's blog. Stories set in Asia draw me in - maybe because I live here and this kind of one set in a family of mixed race is one of the best. Stories such as this gives you an insight into how different people live, their way of life despite living cheek and jowl by each other for centuries may be so different as to be almost different countries.
We have Agnes just seventeen, still schooling but mature and able to understand the problems facing her family. Aristocratic they may be but they are so poor that economies are constantly having to be made just to survive. Living in a crumbling palace, leaky and falling down upon their ears they still maintain in a diminished way their position in local society. Their only income in the small pension her British grandfather gets and an income from three boarders.
Only from the discussions of music and style does one get the feeling that the story is set in the 1920s. You get the colonials who are still ruling the roost in Asia and everyone being quite subservient to them but these are all about to change and you feel it in the air. Agnes is quite naive however - she is the only youngster in a household of older people and quite protected as a young Muslim woman. Her knowledge of the world of men is limited and so she is prey to her feelings and emotions very much like any teenager is at any time anywhere. Agnes or Aggie as she was known matured and grew from an unaware teenager to someone whose wits were very much in focus by the end of the story.
This is a coming of age story. In exotic surroundings which added to the allure and set against the political turmoil that is Asia. I was extremely glad that Netgalley sent it to me courtesy of their publishers Lake Union Publishing.