The Sandalwood Tree by Elle Newmark

The Sandalwood Tree
By Elle Newmark

Atria, $25.99

Here's what the publisher tells us:
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 thoughts:

There's so much about  Elle Newmark's The Sandalwood Tree that I want to say. So, where do I start?  This is not a simple story of a husband and wife struggling in their rapidly deteriorating marriage. This is not a simple story of a peek into lives that were lived one hundred years before Evie and Martin, when Evie unearths yellowing and tattered letters between Felicity and Adela, who lived in the Mitchell's rented house in the Victorian age the novel begins to hum with the sights and sounds of old India.

I love books that tell two stories woven into one, I like flipping back and forth in time and space. Newmark brilliantly depicts the world of Martin and Evie as they record the end of the British Raj in India after WWII, and does an
equally stunning job in painting for the readers, the world of Felicity Chadwick and Adela Winfield, set in the mid 1880s India and England.  What a joy to read Newmark's vivid descriptions of these caracters' worlds and their lives. 

I remember, after the death of my dear Mother, reading letters she had written to friends and family. It was with complete amazement and with rapt attention that I  sat cross legged on the floor of her bedroom, reading about her world, struggling to read her script, written with such excitement about her live.  I read with equal amazement, the words that author Elle Newmark put down in Felicity and Adela's world.  I am such a sucker for stories told in letter form!  84 Charing Cross Road is a long time favorite of mine.

Not wanting to give too much away, as always, I want to add that in both story lines we find, mystery, love,  joy, friendship, betrayal and ultimately...forgiveness.  

In The Sandalwood Tree, Elle Newmark crafts an almost perfect novel. There are virtually no unnecessary scenes, no sentences that don't paint a complete picture, and the plotting is so seamless that you completely suspend your disbelief!

I say, go buy The Sandalwood Tree, download it...whatever you do, but read this book and share its story with everyone you know who loves a great book.

I give it 4 1/2 out of 5 stars!!  

ARC provided to me by the publisher and in no way affect my review.

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