I have a confession to make.
Before I did my one-month internship at Penguin last year, I'd never read a Dinah Jefferies book. I'd heard of the books, and heard good things, but hadn't ever picked one up or added it to my reading list. And truly, I'm not sure why. I love a bit of romance, and books set in far-off climes, but for some reason I hadn't gravitated to Dinah's books.
Which is a shame, because they are lovely.
While I was interning at Penguin it was all systems go to promote The Silk Merchant's Daughter, Dinah's smash hit novel of 2016. It's a great read, full of detail, and I very much enjoyed it (after mailing out oodles of copies, bound up with pretty ribbons, I had to get a copy to satisfy my curiosity - I'd seen the cover so often!). Flash forward to this year and Dinah has another book releasing, and I was delighted to be asked to be part of the blog tour for it.
Before The Rains (Viking, releases tomorrow!) is a charming, stirring tale of love, duty, forgiveness and finding where you belong. Set in an India blooming into being as the days of British Rule were beginning to fade and as the first overtures towards independence were being made, this book is full of colour and life, and describes quite wonderfully a time now long gone. Jefferies captures the raw beauty of the subcontinent, the majesty of the castles and palaces, the prim and proper British ways, and serves up a story full of twists and delights.
The protagonist, Eliza, is a thoroughly modern woman, and I enjoyed understanding more and more of her story as the chapters unfolded. I enjoyed that she was not a woman without flaws, but rather a multifaceted, interesting woman. This made me really want to root for her to have a happy ending, whatever form that might take! Her passion for photography and her wish to improve the lives of others we truly admirable.
The romance in the book is handled quite beautifully, something which I think is no mean feat - all too often I've read romances where the love and lovemaking can descend into a cheesefest, but the love story here is full of tension, more than one twist, and some poetic, magnetic moments. I really wanted the central pair to end up in one another's arms, which is always the sign of a good romance, non? I also liked that the stakes were high, and that the plot truly kept me guessing right up to the end to see how things might play out!
Before the Rains is a lovely book, and I tore through it on a couple of long train journeys - this is interesting, vivid, readable fiction. Thank you to Viking for asking me to be part of the blog tour - you can check out what other bloggers are saying by visiting their pages too (details in the image below).
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book to review from the publisher. All opinions, thoughts and ponderings are my own.