The Sapphire Child is the second in Janet MacLeod Trotter’s Raj Hotel series, though can be enjoyed as a standalone if you haven’t read the first book, The Emerald Affair. The book features many of the characters from the first book but brings more focus on the next generation as they grow to adulthood and the Second World War approaches.
Thirteen year old Andrew is the son of Tom Lomax and his estranged wife Lydia. At the beginning of the book, after an altercation which results in him leaving his school, he is excited to have the opportunity to travel to Scotland to spend the summer with his mother who he hasn’t seen since he was a baby. Escorting him on the voyage is his childhood friend Stella. She is equally as excited to be visiting Britain, a place she, like many Brits living in India at the time, considers home even though she’s never been there before. We follow these characters over the next few years both in Scotland and back in India at very important stages of their lives.
This is a book which will appeal to all the senses. The author depicts the heat of India so well and also the cold of Scotland. Although, it was also cold in India up in the hills where Tom and Lydia are snowed in over the winter months. It’s an aspect of India I don’t often consider, as it’s a country I always think of as being hot. The food in India in particular sounded delicious. I always enjoy a book that takes me away to another place and, although Ebbsmouth was certainly a more familiar setting, being not far from Edinburgh, I so enjoyed the trip to Raj India.
Family secrets are a big theme in this book and that’s what I enjoyed the most. It was clear to see the effect that these secrets had on young Andrew’s life. Sometimes the secrets had been kept with the best of intentions and sometimes for more devious reasons. As he gradually became aware of them, he really had to rethink a lot of what he thought he knew. Stella had some secrets of her own and my heart really went out to her and the predicament she found herself in.
Although not the main focus of the book, there is a rather lovely romance woven throughout the story too. As a reader, I was fairly sure I knew how this would pan out but it was lovely to see the characters come to this same realisation, a rather beautifully written, heart-warming scene.
The historical aspect of the book is also deserving of a mention. As well as taking her readers to a different place, the author is excellent at transporting them to a different time too. This book takes place in the 1930s and 40s, a time when British rule in India and indeed throughout the Empire was rightly being questioned and beginning to reach its end.
The Sapphire Child is a book you can lose yourself in for many hours as you experience life in a different place and a different time. The author obviously has a passion for India as well as personal knowledge and this comes across clearly in her writing. Fans of historical fiction set in exotic climes with a side order of family secrets and love will enjoy this book. A very satisfying read, I do hope there might be another book in this series continuing to follow the lives of these characters.
My thanks to the publishers Lake Union for my review copy of the book. The Sapphire Child is available in all formats and you can order your copy here: The Sapphire Child
From the back of the book
In the dying days of the Raj, can paths divided by time and circumstance ever find each other again?
In 1930s Northern India, childhood friends Stella and Andrew have grown up together in the orbit of the majestic Raj Hotel. Spirited Stella has always had a soft spot for boisterous Andrew, though she dreams of meeting a soulmate from outside the close-knit community. But life is turned on its head when one scandal shatters their friendship and another sees her abandoned by the man she thought she loved.
As the Second World War looms, Andrew joins the army to fight for freedom. Meanwhile in India, Stella, reeling from her terrible betrayal, also throws herself into the war effort, volunteering for the Women’s Auxiliary Corps, resigned to living a lonelier life than the one she dreamed of as a child.
When Andrew returns to the East on the eve of battle with Japan, the two former friends are reunited, though bitter experience has changed them. Can they rekindle what they once had or will war demand of their friendship the ultimate sacrifice?
About the author
Janet MacLeod Trotter is the author of numerous bestselling and acclaimed novels, including The Hungry Hills, which was nominated for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, The Tea Planter’s Daughter, which was nominated for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Novel of the Year Award, and In the Far Pashmina Mountains, which was shortlisted for the RNA Historical Romance of the Year Award. Much informed by her own experiences, MacLeod Trotter was raised in the north-east of England by Scottish parents and travelled in India as a young woman. She now divides her time between Northumberland and the Isle of Skye. Find out more about the author and her novels at http://www.janetmacleodtrotter.com.