The Sandalwood Tree is a great story and Ms. Newmark has a wonderful gift for writing.
Reading the book, the reader gets a sense of time and place - you can practically smell the patchouli, sandalwood soap......and the not so nice odors that abound.
The reader, or at least this reader, also gets a feel for the people involved - the two Englishwomen in the 1850s, the American couple and their son in 1947 (as well as the other "ex-pats" that are in India at the time), and for the different groups and castes of India and how much a culture shock India can be for Westerners.
This is certainly a book that is worth re-visiting again down the road.
A sweeping novel that brings to life two love stories, ninety years apart, set against the rich backdrop of war-torn India.
In 1947, American historian and veteran of WWII, Martin Mitchell, wins a Fulbright Fellowship to document the end of British rule in India. His wife, Evie, convinces him to take her and their young son along, hoping a shared adventure will mend their marriage, which has been strained by war.
But other places, other wars. Martin and Evie find themselves stranded in a colonial bungalow in the Himalayas due to violence surrounding the partition of India between Hindus and Muslims. In that house, hidden behind a brick wall, Evie discovers a packet of old letters, which tell a strange and compelling story of love and war involving two young Englishwomen who lived in the same house in 1857.
Drawn to their story, Evie embarks on a mission to piece together her Victorian mystery. Her search leads her through the bazaars and temples of India as well as the dying society of the British Raj. Along the way, Martin’s dark secret is exposed, unleashing a new wedge between Evie and him. As India struggles toward Independence, Evie struggles to save her marriage, pursuing her Victorian ghosts for answers.
Bursting with lavish detail and vivid imagery of Calcutta and beyond, The Sandalwood Tree is a powerful story about betrayal, forgiveness, fate, and love.