Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Cinders and Sapphires by Leila Rasheed: Review
Cinders and Sapphires
by: Leila Rasheed
Ada Averley is kind of a big deal. She's returning from India with her family, though under less than ideal circumstances. But, she's coming back to a big house, servants, and the upcoming season. But, she's got other things on her mind. Like going to Cambridge, or the dashing young man she met on the boat on the way over...
This book is a big fat worm on a hook dangling in front of Downton Abbey fans. I'll admit it, I took a nibble. And, for the most part, I got what I was expecting. It was a fun kind of gossip girly historical fiction. That section of history, right when the world was on the verge of massive change, heartbreak and despair is so interesting to read about. Even within the novel you get the very real sense that something very massive is bubbling beneath the surface. Not just in reference to WWI, though of course that significantly changed matters in Europe, and the world in general. But, there were changes coming for women, and the British colonies, and rights for workers. And in many way, Rasheed captures that magic in her novel, weaving the lives of upper class and servants together to show some of the sparkle of the time but also the grit.
All of that being said, there were some flaws in the novel that need to be mentioned as well. There were a lot of characters, and I must admit they were a little hard to keep track of at times. A lot of different story lines were crisscrossing, and while it was accurate, it did get confusing. But, I started to sort myself out after about 50 pages or so.
The other one, which I'm sure there will be disagreement with is the romance between Rose and Ravi. I'm sorry guys, I just couldn't get on board. I get what Ravi is supposed to represent, but he didn't really shine as a character. We know a little about him, and he and Rose share a kiss at the beginning of the novel. But, other than that, he really just falls flat. I found myself really liking Lord Fenton. A lot, actually.
Is it worth a read? If you really enjoy Downton Abbey, I think you'll get a kick out of it. Of course, I'm pretty easy to please when it comes to historical fiction. Will I pick up the next in the series? It is highly probable that I will, if not purely for the entertainment value.