A Return To “Indian Summers”

Julia Justiss // Fresh Fiction Columnist

With the lush PBS Masterpiece series “Indian Summers” soon to begin Season Two, it’s time to look
at another round of novels that explore the exotic, complex world of the British
Raj in India and the struggles for Indian independence.

Indian Summers 2_Signature

Beginning with the earliest-set book, we have THE LINNET BIRD by Linda
Holeman. Born Linny Gow in the slums of Liverpool in the early 1800’s, forced
into prostitution at age eleven by her stepfather, the tenacious and
enterprising Linny manages to escape that life, reinventing herself as a
seemingly respectable middle-class young lady. Her friendship with a merchant’s
daughter puts her into position to accompany the girl to India as part of the
“fishing fleet,” young women of good birth but no fortune who sail to the
subcontinent in search of husbands. With the threat of discovery always looming
over her, Linny snares wealthy British officer Somers Ingram as a husband, only
to discover that violence and danger can lurk in other places besides the back
alleys of Liverpool. But Linny hasn’t traveled this far to yield to unpleasant
circumstance; using all her inventiveness and tenacity, she will find a way to
claim the freedom—and love—she’s always wanted.

THE LINNET BIRD by
Linda Holeman

The Linnet Bird

In the claustrophobic, mannered world of British India, Linny Ingram seems
the perfect society wife: pretty, gracious, subservient. But appearances can be
deceptive. Linny Ingram was born Linny Gow, an orphan raised in the gray slums
of Liverpool. Sold into prostitution by her stepfather when she was only eleven,
Linny clung to the belief that she was meant for something more, something
better, than life on the cold, dangerous streets.

A stroke of luck granted Linny the chance to re-create herself as a proper
middle-class young lady, allowing her to join “the fishing fleet”—young women of
good birth who sailed to India in search of husbands. India, with its exotic
colors, sights, and smells, is a world away from the cold back alleys of Linny’s
childhood. But even there, she is haunted by her past, and by the constant
threat of discovery. Soon she finds that respectability and marriage bring a new
kind of imprisonment. But having come so far, Linny is not about to surrender
easily. In the lush tropics of India she finds not only the means of rebellion .
. . she finds that she may be capable of feeling love and freedom after all.

Historical [Broadway Books, On Sale: January 1, 2006, Paperback /
e-Book (reprint), ISBN: 9781400097401 / eISBN: 9780307238481]

Next along the timeline is VEIL
OF ILLUSION
by Rebecca Ryman. This sequel to the love story OLIVIA AND JAI
focuses more on the culture and prejudices of Anglo-Indian society. In 1870’s
Calcutta, widowed Olivia Raventhorne fights to clear the name of her Eurasian
husband Jai, who was accused of involvement in the horrific Bibighar massacre in
which more than 200 English women and children were slaughtered. Interwoven with
her story is the romantic entanglement of another Eurasian-British couple,
Olivia’s beautiful daughter Maya and Christian Pendlebury, the son of a wealthy
English official. Though the idealistic Christian hopes he can work to benefit
all, both Indian society and the British colonials scorn those of mixed
heritage, even a family as wealthy and established as the Raventhornes. With the
author’s intimate knowledge of India and the history of this period, she creates
a vivid backdrop to the dramatic and often heart-breaking events in the lives of
her characters.

Another tale featuring the “fishing fleet” is Julia Gregson’s EAST OF THE SUN. It’s the
fall of 1928 when chaperone Viva Holloway shepherds her three charges aboard the
vessel that will take them to Bombay. Viva plans to deliver her charges, recover
a trunk full of a relative’s possessions, and return to England. Beautiful,
naïve Rose goes to marry a man she’s met only a handful of times, while her good
friend and bridesmaid Tor wants to escape the strictures of England and find a
compatible husband. After their arrival, Viva’s mission to return home is
complicated by her third charge, sixteen-year-old Guy Glover, who had been
expelled from school in England for reasons that become more and more
disturbingly apparent. Rose finds the reality of marriage starkly different from
her romantic daydreams, and Tor struggles to find a place in an environment both
totally different from—and much too similarly restricted as—the England she’s
left behind. From the wealth and glamor of the Bombay Yacht Club to the poverty
of the mean Bombay streets, the women’s stories are set against the background
of an increasingly restive India, where Gandhi’s independence movement is
gaining force, threatening the very society they have come to join.

EAST OF THE SUN by
Julia Gregson

East Of The Sun

As the Kaisar-i-Hind weighs anchor for Bombay in the autumn of 1928, its
passengers ponder their fate in a distant land. They are part of the “Fishing
Fleet” — the name given to the legions of Englishwomen who sail to India each
year in search of husbands, heedless of the life that awaits them. The
inexperienced chaperone Viva Holloway has been entrusted to watch over three
unsettling charges.

There’s Rose, as beautiful as she is naïve, who plans to marry a cavalry
officer she has met a mere handful of times. Her bridesmaid, Victoria, is
hell-bent on losing her virginity en route before finding a husband of her own.
And shadowing them all is the malevolent presence of a disturbed schoolboy named
Guy Glover.

From the parties of the wealthy Bombay socialites to the poverty of Tamarind
Street, from the sooty streets of London to the genteel conversation of the
Bombay Yacht Club, EAST OF THE SUN is graced with lavish detail and a
penetrating sensitivity — historical fiction at its greatest.

Historical | Romance Historical
[Touchstone, On Sale: June 2, 2009, Paperback /
e-Book, ISBN: 9781439101124 / eISBN: 9781439117804]

We end with two novels that employ the flashback technique. THE SPLENDOR OF SILENCE by
Indu Sundaresan opens in 1963, as Sam Hawthorne’s daughter Olivia opens a trunk
from India that includes a letter revealing the mysteries of her childhood. The
story then shifts to four days in 1945, when U.S. Army captain Sam Hawthorne,
recovering from wounds suffered fighting in Burma, arrives in Rudrakot, hunting
for his missing brother. But his intention to discover what he can and then
leave is compromised when he falls in love with Mila, daughter of his host, the
local political agent. The intended bride of a Prince, Mila struggles against
her attraction to this foreigner, finding herself trapped between love for Sam
and loyalty to her family. Complicating the issue, Mila’s younger brother
identifies with the dissident Indians eager for independence, while his elder
brother trusts the good will of the Raj. Sundaresan’s mastery of detail and
character brings out the full poignancy of their situation, caught in a web of
racial prejudice and the instability of a nation stampeding toward freedom from
British rule.

THE SPLENDOR OF
SILENCE
by Indu Sundaresan

The Splendor of Silence

Set in India during four searing pre-monsoon days in May 1942, The
Splendor of Silence
is internationally bestselling author Indu Sundaresan’s
most unforgettable accomplishment yet, merging her Indian and American
backgrounds into a heartrending tale of love and clashing cultures in a time of war.

Sam Hawthorne, a twenty-five-year-old U.S. Army captain, arrives at the princely
state of Rudrakot in search of his missing brother, Mike, carrying with him
wounds from combat in Burma and several secrets. But Sam’s mission is soon
threatened by the unlikeliest of sources — he falls hopelessly in love with
Mila, daughter of the local political agent. Mila, unexpectedly attracted to
Sam, nurtures a secret of her own and finds herself torn between loyalty to her
family and Sam.

The Splendor of Silence opens twenty-one years later with Olivia, Sam’s
daughter, receiving a trunk of treasures from India, along with a letter from an
unknown narrator that finally fills all the silences of her childhood — telling
her the story of her parents’ passionate and enduring love for each other that
throws them in the path of racial prejudice, nationalist intrigue, and the
explosive circumstances of a country and a society on the brink of independence
from British rule.

Sweeping and poignant, reminiscent of Paul Scott’s Raj Quartet novels,
The Splendor of Silence will draw a host of devoted new fans to this
hugely gifted storyteller.

Historical | Romance Historical
[Atria, On Sale: September 12, 2006, Paperback /
e-Book (reprint), ISBN: 9780743283687 / eISBN: 9780743293815]

Our last selection, THE
SANDALWOOD TREE
by Elle Newmark, is set in the same locale as the PBS
series—Simla. Newmark’s tale begins in 1947, when American anthropologist Martin
Mitchell wins a Fulbright Fellowship to study in India and brings his family to
this small village in the Himalayas. For wife Evie, it is both a chance for
adventure and a last desperate attempt to mend her marriage to the husband who
returned from World War II broken and troubled. During a frenzy of cleaning in
their colonial bungalow, Evie finds a packet of letters describing the lives of
two English girls who lived in the house in 1857. Captivated by their story,
which provides an escape from the difficulties of her own life, Evie is drawn to
discover what the letters left out, a journey that takes her from bazaars and
temples to the heart of the crumbling society that was the British Raj. Set
against the violent backdrop of an India on the verge of independence from
British rule, the dark secrets she uncovers come to threaten her world, forcing
her to surmount betrayal and embrace the healing offered by acceptance,
forgiveness and love.

THE SANDALWOOD TREE
by Elle Newmark

The Sandalwood Tree

From incredible storyteller and nationally bestselling author Elle Newmark
comes a rich, sweeping novel that brings to life two love stories, ninety years
apart, set against the backdrop of war-torn India.

In 1947, an American anthropologist named Martin Mitchell wins a Fulbright
Fellowship to study in India. He travels there with his wife, Evie, and his son,
determined to start a new chapter in their lives. Upon the family’s arrival,
though, they are forced to stay in a small village due to violence surrounding
Britain’s imminent departure from India. It is there, hidden behind a brick wall
in their colonial bungalow, that Evie discovers a packet of old letters that
tell a strange and compelling story of love and war involving two young
Englishwomen who lived in the very same house in 1857.

Drawn to their story, Evie embarks on a mission to uncover what the letters
didn’t explain. Her search leads her through the bazaars and temples of India as
well as the dying society of the British Raj. Along the way, a dark secret is
exposed, and this new and disturbing knowledge creates a wedge between Evie and
her husband. Bursting with lavish detail and vivid imagery of Bombay and beyond,
The Sandalwood Tree is a powerful story about betrayal, forgiveness,
fate, and love.

Historical [Atria, On Sale: April 5, 2011, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN:
9781416590606 / eISBN: 9781416597933]

MASTERPIECE Indian Summers, Season 2 Premieres Sunday, September 11, 2016 on PBS EPISODE 1 Shown from left to right: Jemima West as Alice Whelan and Nikesh Patel as Aafrin Dalal (C) New Pictures for Channel 4 and MASTERPIECE in association with All3MediaInternational
MASTERPIECE
Indian
Summers, Season 2
Premieres Sunday, September 11, 2016 on PBS
EPISODE
1
Shown from left to right: Jemima West as Alice Whelan and Nikesh Patel as
Aafrin Dalal
(C) New Pictures for Channel 4 and MASTERPIECE in association
with All3MediaInternational

MASTERPIECE Indian Summers, Season 2 Premieres Sunday, September 11, 2016 on PBS EPISODE 1 Shown from left to right: Blake Ritson as Charlie Havistock and Jemima West as Alice Whelan (C) New Pictures for Channel 4 and MASTERPIECE in association with All3MediaInternational
MASTERPIECE
Indian
Summers, Season 2
Premieres Sunday, September 11, 2016 on PBS
EPISODE
1
Shown from left to right: Blake Ritson as Charlie Havistock and Jemima
West as Alice Whelan
(C) New Pictures for Channel 4 and MASTERPIECE in
association with All3MediaInternational

Ready for another taste of the exotic? Grab any of these selections for a
good read as you anticipate the return of PBS’s mesmerizing series, “Indian
Summers!”

About Julia Justiss

Julia Justiss

Real, intense, passionate historical romance

After twelve years as a vagabond Navy wife, an adventure that took her from
Virginia Beach, VA, to Monterrey, CA, to Tunis, Tunisia to Oslo, Norway and
back, Julia Justiss followed her husband to his family’s East Texas
homeland. On a hill above a pond with a view of pasture land, they built an
English Georgian-style home. Sitting at her desk there, if she ignores the
summer heat, she can almost imagine herself in Jane Austen’s Regency
England.

In between teaching high school French and making jaunts to visit
her three children (a Seabee in Gulfport, MS, a clothing buyer in Houston and a
mechanical engineer in Austin, TX) she pursues her first love—writing
historical fiction.

Series: Regency Silk & Scandal | Hadley’s Hellions | Ransleigh Rogues

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About FORBIDDEN NIGHTS WITH THE
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Leader of Hadley’s Hellions, a group of outsiders who bond together at Oxford
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