Thursday, September 22, 2016

Monsoon Summer by Julia Gregson

By the award-winning author of East of the Sun, an epic love story moving from England to India, about the forbidden love between a young Indian doctor and an English midwife.

Oxfordshire, 1947. Kit Smallwood, hiding a painful secret and exhausted from nursing soldiers during the Second World War, escapes to Wickam Farm where her friend is setting up a charity sending midwives to the Moonstone Home in South India.

Then Kit meets Anto, an Indian doctor finishing his medical training at Oxford. But Kit’s light skinned mother is in fact Anglo-Indian with secrets of her own, and Anto is everything she does not want for her daughter.

Despite the threat of estrangement, Kit is excited for the future, hungry for adventure, and deeply in love. She and Anto secretly marry and set off for South India—where Kit plans to run the maternity hospital she’s helped from afar. 

But Kit’s life in India does not turn out as she imagined. Anto’s large, traditional family wanted him to marry an Indian bride and find it hard to accept Kit. Their relationship under immense strain, Kit’s job is also fraught with tension as they both face a newly independent India, where riots have left millions dead and there is deep-rooted suspicion of the English. In a rapidly changing world, Kit’s naiveté is to land her in a frightening and dangerous situation...

Based on true accounts of European midwives in India, Monsoon Summer is a powerful story of secrets, the nature of home, the comforts and frustrations of family, and how far we’ll go to be with those we love.

OPINION

I have always been fascinated with relationships from two different cultures and all the conflicts that can arise from it. In MONSOON SUMMER, author Julia Gregson explores this topic.

The novel is set in the aftermath of India's victory for independence from British colonialism, in the year 1947. The political and governmental atmosphere is one of near scrambling to establish laws and processes and regulations. Kit is a nurse with experience in World War II, and aspires to specialize in midwifery. In England, she meets and falls in love with a handsome Indian doctor named Anto, and when they marry, they experience a bit of prejudice from her own family. When Kit travels to India to work, she leaves her family's disapproval behind only to encounter the same within his family who struggle to accept her. As Kit struggles to establish a midwifery clinic and practice, she struggles with Indian societal norms and expectations, and a heap of trouble soon plagues her.   

Julia Gregson did an outstanding job of making her characters real because of her strong understanding of the cultural differences between Britain and India. She was able to demonstrate each characters personality and beliefs shaped by societal taboos and practices. There was  plenty of discord between the various characters in the story too, and as each character evolved and changed, I experienced understanding and satisfaction with the story. The author skilfully explored racism, courage, betrayal, resilience and much, much more in this portrayal of a young woman determined to breach the limitations imposed upon her because of her sex. This a wonderful family saga that evokes the sights, smells, and painful struggles of India.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for visiting my blog, http://greathistoricals.blogspot.ca, where the greatest historical fiction is reviewed! For fascinating women of history bios and women's fiction please visit http://www.historyandwomen.com.