In The Mirror A Peacock Danced by Justine Bothwick
A girl born and brought up in India and it is now 1938 where India is at the crossroads of an independence struggle. The British are not wanted
and Florence has to go home. She who has only known the warmth and color of the tropics is expected to conform to a rigorous insular life with
her aunt and make a life for herself. Her father seems unconcerned about her, just feels she has let him down by not shining at whatever he
expected her to do.
Florence's is clever with a bent for mathematics and engines - things which are not considered feminine enough and despite her long stint of work
with machines and in a supervisory capacity in a factory is not taken much notice of when she does apply to follow a line of studies. Florence's
story told between the time lines of Agra 1938 and Portsmouth 1953 could not be more of a contrast and she struggles to lift her head above
water and to make something of herself and her life. Subjugated by a husband who is a bully, with no family support of any kind she and her
son Robert have to find a way to survive.
The story is very descriptive in both countries - and shows how difficult it was for Britishers who had lived in the East for so long to try
to adapt to a country which they were strangers to and to a lifestyle they were not familiar with.
Heartbreak, derogatory attitudes faced by Florence would have broken many women but Florence strives to survive knowing that a better future
could be got.
The story was very rich in both emotion (sad, tense and happy) as well as very evocative of places where it took place.
Sent by Agora Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.