The Sandalwood Tree

The Sandalwood Tree

By: Elle Newmark

Published: 2011

# of pages: 357

Quote: "A few months later, we bathed our new son together. We inhaled his innocence, lathered the peach fuzz on his head, marveled at the perfect whorls of his tiny ears, his starfish hands, the tender flush on his round, wet, baby belly. Martin cupped one wee foot and growled, 'Arrgh-arrgh-arrgh. Oooh, I'm gonna eat him.' He kissed each pink toe. 'Oooh, he's delicious.' Afterward, we lay in bed chuckling at our newborn, who lay snoring like an old man. . . . I watched him sleep and wondered how anything could be so sweet. I thought I might die from insulin shock." -Evie, pg. 40

Official description:

A sweeping novel that brings to life two love stories, ninety years apart, set against the rich backdrop of war-torn India.

In 1947, American historian and veteran of WWII, Martin Mitchell, wins a Fulbright Fellowship to document the end of British rule in India. His wife, Evie, convinces him to take her and their young son along, hoping a shared adventure will mend their marriage, which has been strained by war.

But other places, other wars. Martin and Evie find themselves stranded in a colonial bungalow in the Himalayas due to violence surrounding the partition of India between Hindus and Muslims. In that house, hidden behind a brick wall, Evie discovers a packet of old letters, which tell a strange and compelling story of love and war involving two young Englishwomen who lived in the same house in 1857.

Drawn to their story, Evie embarks on a mission to piece together her Victorian mystery. Her search leads her through the bazaars and temples of India as well as the dying society of the British Raj. Along the way, Martin’s dark secret is exposed, unleashing a new wedge between Evie and him. As India struggles toward Independence, Evie struggles to save her marriage, pursuing her Victorian ghosts for answers.

Bursting with lavish detail and vivid imagery of Calcutta and beyond, The Sandalwood Tree is a powerful story about betrayal, forgiveness, fate, and love.

My opinion: I loved this book! I think Newmark did a great job with her descriptions of both the characters and the setting. I was especially impressed with her descriptions of motherhood from the viewpoint of a biological mother and a mother through adoption. Absolutely beautiful!

I was also intrigued with the story and the setting. It was interesting from an historic standpoint (British/Indian conflicts in both 1856 and 1947) and how the two story lines tie together. I definitely recommend to lovers of historical fiction and anyone looking for a well-written novel.

I can't help but post more of my favorite quotes from the book at the bottom of this post...

Why I gave this book 5/5 stars: Well-written, unique story, good pace, interesting setting.

Other reviews:
S. Krishna's Books
life by candlelight

Have you reviewed this? Let me know and I'd be happy to post yours as well.

More quotes: "I spent most of the hour cajoling the children into letting me hug them. In the end, shy smiles turned into giggling fits, and eight pairs of enormous black eyes crinkled with mirth. They didn't learn Bs that day; it was much better than that." -pg. 189

"I held him under the kissing ball & when I pecked his tender cheek, he grabbed my hair to pull my face to his. It was the finest Christmas gift I have ever received." -pg. 308

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