‘She’s half the world away, but her heart remains in India’
The Girl from the Tea Garden is Book 3 in the India Tea Series from Janet MacLeod Trotter and is described as ‘an emotional and uplifting novel set in the momentous times of the 1930s and the Second World War’.
Published by Lake Union Publishing in December 2016, The Girl from the Tea Garden, is a stunning novel full of such vivid descriptions of India during the dying days of the Raj.
I received my copy from the author earlier in the year and am delighted to (finally) bring you my unbiased review today….
In the dying days of the Raj, Anglo-Indian schoolgirl Adela Robson dreams of a glamorous career on the stage. When she sneaks away from school in the back of handsome Sam Jackman’s car, she knows a new life awaits—but it is not the one she imagined.
In Simla, the summer seat of the Raj government, Adela throws herself into all the dazzling entertainments 1930s Indian society can offer a beautiful debutante. But just as her ambitions seem on the cusp of becoming reality, she meets a charming but spoilt prince, setting in motion a devastating chain of events.
The outbreak of the Second World War finds Adela back in England—a country she cannot remember—without hope or love, and hiding a shameful secret. Only exceptional courage and endurance can pull her through these dark times and carry her back to the homeland of her heart.
I have had this beautiful book in my TBR for way too long!!
The Girl from the Tea Garden is the third book in this series from Janet MacLeod Trotter. Having not read any of the previous books, there’s always that hesitation about the history of characters and will it be difficult to pick up a plot-line. Well I can honestly state it made no difference to my reading experience.
The story begins in Shillong India in 1933 at a boarding school for girls. Adela Robson is schooled here against her wishes. Not one to get caught up in the politics of the popularity contest, Adela soon finds herself at the tail-end of the class bully and suffers the consequences of a past history she cannot hide.
Adela is a very strong-minded individual with big ambitions from a very young age. With her heart set on becoming an actress, Adela’s journey takes her to Simla, the summer location for the Raj government. Here, Adela blossoms and discovers the joy of the stage and the comradeship that it brings.
In Simla she remains under the guidance of Mrs. Fluffy Hogg, a military widow who remained in the country following the death of her husband. Fluffy, though a septuagenarian, has quite avant-garde views and Adela finds herself in the company of quite a bohemian bunch of people.
India is on the cusp of change and Adela is intrigued by the rising voice of the radical. She volunteers her services at the local hospital and sees with her own eyes the poverty and desolation of the mountain folk. The prosperity of the Raj and colonialism are in stark contrast to the impoverished native population.
Adela was reared in relative wealth as the daughter of a tea-plantation owner. Well loved by both her mother and father, Adela was never short of opportunities to flourish into a young woman.
From an early age she develops an admiration for a young man, Sam Jackman. As the years pass by, Adela and Sam continue to cross paths. As Adela explores the glamour and glitz of Simla, she becomes fascinated by the lifestyle offered. Adela has dreams of being the next Gracie Fields and this lifestyle appears to be almost a stepping stone for her.
But circumstances have a strange way of changing the course of a life and Adela soon finds herself in England. With the outbreak of the Second World War, life takes on a completely different meaning for Adela. Distanced from her family, she throws herself into the war effort and with fortitude and pure grit, she keeps a stoic attitude facing up to all the challenges she encounters.
The Girl from the Tea Garden is a beautiful book laden with such spectacular descriptions of the Indian countryside. Both the poverty and the wealth are portrayed in sharp contrast to each other, as the author takes the reader on a journey back in time.
It was on discovery of the diaries and letters belonging to her grandparents, Bob and Sydney Gorrie, that inspired Janet MacLeod Trotter to write the India Tea Series. Her grandparents married in Lahore in the 1920s and lived and worked in the Punjab for almost thirty years. The trip the author made to India herself, retracing their steps, makes for a very authentic narrative. I thoroughly enjoyed The Girl from the Tea Garden and was quite disappointed when I had found I had turned the last page.
For all lovers of historical fiction, for lovers of romance and for all who are fascinated with India and colonialism, this is a book for you. I do hope you enjoy it!!
Purchase Link ~ The Girl from the Tea Garden
Janet Macleod Trotter is the author of numerous bestselling and acclaimed novels, including The India Tea Series, the Jarrow Trilogy, the Durham Trilogy, and the Tyneside Sagas.
Her India novels start in 1904 and go through the momentous times of the final years of the British Raj. They were partly inspired by diaries, letters and old cine films belonging to her grandparents who had lived and worked in India.
Much informed by her own experiences, she Janet was raised in the north-east of England by Scottish parents and travelled to India as a young woman.
She now divides her time between Northumberland and the Isle of Skye.
Website ~ http://www.janetmacleodtrotter.com/
Twitter ~ @MacLeodTrotter