The Kashmir Shawl: A Novel

The Kashmir Shawl: A Novel

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by Rosie Thomas
     
 

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On the eve of 1941, newlywed Nerys Watkins leaves rural Britain to accompany her husband on a missionary posting to the exotic city of Srinagar, India. But when he leaves to take on a complicated mission elsewhere, Nerys discovers a new world. Here, in the heart of Kashmir, the British dance, flirt, and gossip against the backdrop of war, and Neryssoon becomes

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Overview

On the eve of 1941, newlywed Nerys Watkins leaves rural Britain to accompany her husband on a missionary posting to the exotic city of Srinagar, India. But when he leaves to take on a complicated mission elsewhere, Nerys discovers a new world. Here, in the heart of Kashmir, the British dance, flirt, and gossip against the backdrop of war, and Neryssoon becomes caught up in a dangerous liaison. By the time she is reunited with her husband, she is a very different woman.

Years later, Nerys’s granddaughter Mair Ellis clears out her dead father’s house and finds an exquisite shawl. Wrapped in its folds is a lock of a child’s curly hair. With nothing else to go on, Mair decides to trace her grandparents’ roots back to Kashmir, embarking on a quest thatwill change her own life forever.

A sweeping multigenerational tale of marriage, isolation, and finding love in a magical place, The Kashmir Shawl is the inimitable Rosie Thomas at her very best.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Thomas (Lovers & Newcomers), best known as a romance author, weaves a love mystery in her latest work that’s light on plot, but heavy on rich characters and scenery. While cleaning out her deceased father’s house, Mair Ellis discovers an old shawl that belonged to her grandmother, along with a curious lock of hair. Mair, a single woman who has floated through life, is moved to find out more about the shawl, the hair, and her grandmother Nerys, who once lived as a Christian missionary in India. She travels to Kashmir, where Nerys’s story unravels in extensive flashbacks, as her then young grandmother’s loves, pain, and enduring friendships take center stage. The premise of an old shawl triggering such an extensive journey is a weak construct and advances the story only at a molasses pace. Moreover, Mair never fully reaches her potential as an interesting protagonist. Though Thomas falls short in providing a present-day storyline, she makes up for it with the compelling, scandalous tale of Nerys in 1940s India, set against the dynamic backdrop of Kashmir. Agent: Jonathan Lloyd, Curtis Brown (U.K.). (Jan.)
From the Publisher
"Thomas's novels are beautifully written." —Marie Claire

 "A master storyteller." —Cosmopolitan

 "Rosie Thomas writes with beautiful, effortless prose, and shows a rare compassion and a real understanding of the nature of love."  —The Times

Library Journal
Nerys Watkins is a missionary’s wife in 1941 India. When her husband leaves her with friends in order to pursue a more arduous mission alone, the newlywed Nerys finds herself part of British colonial society in the exotic city of Srinagar. She makes friends—and decisions that will change her irrevocably. In present-day Wales, Mair Ellis is going through her late father’s things when she comes across a beautiful Kashmir shawl that had belonged to her grandmother Nerys. Wrapped in the shawl is a lock of hair. Curious, and at loose ends after selling her childhood home, Mair travels to Kashmir in search of information about the grandmother she never knew.

Verdict Thomas (Lovers and Newcomers) brings India to glorious life in this utterly engrossing and beautifully written epic novel, a best seller in Britain. She moves the story from past to present with ease, never allowing one story line to overwhelm another. Her characters are so interesting and realistic that readers will be reluctant to let them go. Fans of Joanna Trollope and Mary Wesley will enjoy this moving work. [Library marketing.]—Elizabeth Mellett, Brookline P.L., MA(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Reviews
An intricately woven shawl is both memento and metaphor in Thomas' meditative transgenerational tale. In Wales, after the death of her father, Mair finds among his effects a finely crafted multicolored pashmina shawl, which her grandmother Nerys, who died before Mair's birth, acquired during her days as a Presbyterian missionary in Kashmir. The origins of the shawl and the lock of hair folded in it must hold the key to Nerys' veiled past, Mair assumes, and so she journeys to the Kashmiri town of Srinagar where Nerys lived during World War II. The story alternates between Mair's present travels and Nerys' Srinigar sojourn. Nerys' straight-laced husband, Evan, is away preaching, and Nerys awaits his return in a houseboat owned by fellow British expats, Myrtle and Archie. Nerys and Myrtle are drawn into the dilemma of a young Englishwoman, Caroline, whose marriage is celibate due to her husband's closeted homosexuality. Caroline has had a forbidden affair with Ravi, an Indian nobleman, and is pregnant. Myrtle finds an ingenious way to hide the pregnancy from the insular, scandal-attuned European community, and from Ravi. Nerys, also love-starved thanks to Evan's prudery, has a joyfully adulterous affair with a Swiss mountaineer and magician, Rainer, who helps her rescue the children of a dishonored and destitute woman who made a Kani shawl very like the one Mair found. (The prosperous but labor-intensive cottage industry of Kani shawls began, before WWII, to lose out to factory-made imitations, impoverishing the true practitioners.) When Mair encounters nonagenarian Caroline in Srinigar, she is now very close to uncovering all the braided and colorful secrets the shawl represents. The atmospheric detail brings the culture and gorgeous scenery of Kashmir to vivid life while also hinting at the political and religious strife that will soon overcome the region as India gains its independence. Although the narrative drags in spots, and Nair's anticlimactic investigation is less compelling than Nerys' adventures, this is a finely wrought story of emotional and geographical displacement.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781468308020
Publisher:
The Overlook Press
Publication date:
09/03/2013
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
480
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

"Thomas's novels are beautifully written." --Marie Claire

 "A master storyteller." --Cosmopolitan

 "Rosie Thomas writes with beautiful, effortless prose, and shows a rare compassion and a real understanding of the nature of love."  --The Times

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