My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A sweeping epic romance set in the British Raj for fans of Richard and Judy Book Club Pick Dinah Jefferies and global bestseller Lucinda Riley
Sarah Archer’s future as the dutiful wife of a British official in India seems assured, until a chance meeting with the gorgeous and powerful French-Indian, Ravi Sabran, changes the course of her destiny.
As the veneer of polite society wears off in the heat of the Indian sun, Sarah soon realises that nothing is as it appears to be, especially her husband Charles…
In the beautiful jasmine gardens of the palace of the Maharajah, Sarah follows a forbidden path… towards Ravi and the long-buried secrets of her own birth.
ARC provided by NetGalley for an honest review
Jane Coverdale so wonderfully takes you back to the era where Great Britain still occupied India. She so distinctly describes the sights, sounds, and smells, it feels as if you are really in India! It is quite apparent she has been to this country. The historical context she uses to describe gender roles and the different ideologies of two conflicting cultures that were forced to intertwine are very accurate. Women were expected to be like trophy wives to the elite male race. They used them to gain higher regards with greater elite. The men serve as the bread winners during the day, but live a life of gambling and drinking together by night. Whatever premiscuous tendencies they may give off are merely brushed off as “men being men,” while women are not allowed to go anywhere outside the home alone as they could be perceived as being unfaithful to their husband.
Sara is no exception. She is nervous arriving in India from a ship sailed from France. She has yet to see her husband, Charles, since their wedding in England. She also is plagued with broken childhood memories of when she grew up in India, though she doesn’t remember her parents’ names or why they died, or why she was separated from her care taker, Ayah. Upon her arrival at the docks, she meets the ever intriguing Ravi, whom is greatly hated by the British for his rather loud stance against British power over India. After numerous run ins with him, and a need to ensure the little orphan girl that he adopted from the dock is well taken care of, she feels the need to visit him regularly. After her arrival to India, she also must stumble along the path of succumbing to serving Charles as an obedient wife, a task much harder for her strong willed mind. Coverdale highlights on the expectations of women in early 20th century and how some women, like Sarah, had to change their way of thought and want of lifestyle to conform to society and survive their husbands at times. In Sarah’s case, she slowly learns that she cannot survive living the English way of life in India when she consistently witnesses the joys and freedom Indian women around her have. As she searches for answers of her unknown past, she also finds courage to make an unheard of decision for her own well being.
The writing style of Jasmine Wife was a bit difficult to follow until I got a few chapters into the book. Flashbacks occur throughout the book, but some are hard to determine so until you reach the next paragraph break. The symbology of a jasmine flower is so wonderfully used here. A jasmine flower’s petals are quite beautiful until they are touched, and then suddenly they turn brown and wilt. Life in India for British women is similar. They appear so beautiful and pure, until they are touched by the sight of Indian culture and realize what they could have but are forbidden against due to British customs. It is then that they wilt like a jasmine flower.
As a student currently pursuing my history degree, I absolutely loved this book! And can we also mention beautiful cover? If you are a fan of historical romance, I highly recommend you snag a copy of this book!