The Kashmir Shawl: A Novel

( 83 )

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 ...

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The Kashmir Shawl: A Novel

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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.)
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: Overlook TP
  • Publication date: 9/3/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 65,208
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Rosie Thomas is the author of numerous celebrated novelsincluding the bestsellers Sun at Midnight, Iris and Ruby, and Constance. A keen traveler, she has climbed in the Alps and the Himalayas and traveled to Ladakh and Kashmir to research this novel.
 
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 83 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(34)

4 Star

(33)

3 Star

(7)

2 Star

(5)

1 Star

(4)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 83 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 20, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    What a story Rosie Thomas was written, she had me walking with t

    What a story Rosie Thomas was written, she had me walking with the Characters through the streets in India. I could almost smell the goats, as was described. We experience the life with the Raj, and the slums.
    The story begins with the death of her father, Mair finds a beautiful Kashmir Shawl among the belongings. She also finds an old envelope with some hair stored in it. Thus begins her quest for answers, and her trip to India.
    There are actually two stories told here, some of it we know but Mair never has all the answers. Mair's Grandmother Nerys and Grandfather Evan are missionaries to India, with WWII going on in 1941, we are about to experience life there. Nerys spends time with Myrtle, and Carolyn, you will enjoy the fun times they make out adversity.
    I really recommend this as a Historical read, so very interesting. Even when Mair goes there, there is fighting between the Hindu's and the Muslims. So very sad.
    Putting this combined story together is a real page turner, and even though the book is a bit long, it was a quick read.

    I received this book through The Bookreporter giveaway, and was not required to give a positive review.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2013

    mixed message

    on nook facebook page it says this book is $2.99 as deal of the day BUT when trying to buy it the book cost $12.99. WHY IS THAT??

    3 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 10, 2013

    The publication date is 1/10/2013 but there is a four-star ratin

    The publication date is 1/10/2013 but there is a four-star rating for this book that is dated 2/21/2012.  What gives???  Does this mean the ratings are all bogus???!!!  Am only giving one star as I have not read book and am wondering about B and N's reviews.

    3 out of 35 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2013

    Hello

    I went on line and got reviews from other book sellers before I purchased. You cant trust gold stars all the time. All other reviews had average 4 star plus.

    3 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2013

    This book is wonderfully written. It makes you feel what it was

    This book is wonderfully written. It makes you feel what it was to live in India in those times. We sadly see the changes happening in Srinagar after the war. The characters are full of life and live every moment intensely. A great story. Hard to put the book down. I loved it and I recommend it to all historical fiction lovers.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2013

    The story did not have an ending and took me a while to get into

    The story did not have an ending and took me a while to get into the story, probably after chapter 4 it became interesting. Many things remained a mystery. If you like the books that leave a lot for imagination, then you should read it, if not don't even start. The book tells few stories. The main story is about Mair trying to find an "owner" of the beautiful shawl and a lock of hair that she found among the belongings of her father after his death. She did find the "owner" but the "owner" was not convinced that these belong to her. A lot is left for the readers to complete. The rest of the little stories in the book all remained a mystery. Did Mair and her new love become a couple? Did Nerys's love, Rainer actually die? The book is not as good as heard from some people.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2013

    The Kashmir Shawl

    One of the best books I have read lately. Rich in historical and setting beauty. Loved it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2013

    Pub dates

    Pub dates for hardcover and ebook versions are not necessarily the same just as an audio version often has a later pub date than other versions.

    2 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2013

    Eh...

    Just can't bring myself to read it. Very boring.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 22, 2013

    A real treat

    What a treasure! I loved this book. Then and now threads were beautifully woven to create a masterpiece. The generational back and forth was not hard to follow....I found myself looking forward to it, and how it all came together at the end. Remarkable writing. Definitely recommend this book and look forward to her new book coming out in the fall.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 10, 2013

    Great Read

    Interesting cultural detail for the two timelines. The story held my interest from the beginning. Author did not hurry to the "next big thing." Plot twists naturally, with many surprises.

    I look forward to the next book by this author.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 9, 2013

    The Ending is Worth the Beginning

    Let me say first of all that by the time I got to the end of this book, I was totally engrossed. There were times, particularly in the first several chapters, that I was annoyed at the skipping back and forth of time periods. It finally became very clear, that this was necessary for the plot to come together. There is intrigue, romance, curiosity, history and geography all coming together to tell this multi-generational story. I gave this only 4 instead of 5 stars, because it was rather slow atarting.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2013

    A beautifully crafted story.

    Rosie Thomas has written this story in a way that immediately draws the reader in. Her descriptions of places and characters keep you there. A wonderful tale from beginning to end.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2013

    Read the editorial reviews......ofcu Read the editorial reviews....of course it didn't come out today!

    It's not barnes & noble misusing the review process, it is customers....like us!.....happy reading! Looks ike a good one to me

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2013

    Give me a summary

    Wha is it about???

    1 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2014

    Loved this book!

    I spent my weekend reading this book. It has been a long time since a story has held my interest like that. I loved the book and would recommend it

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2014

    Diconnected storyline and bad character development

    Overall the story has good intentions but seemed to fall apart at the end. One character in particular went through an unbelievable transformation. It didn't seem like the same character at all as the story progressed. One minute she is not caring and the next she minute she cares about too much. It just didn't seem to flow right. I gave it two stars for the potential it could have had. Good plot but the storyline needs help.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2014

    recommend

    Very good discussion in my book group.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2014

    Excellent!!!

    Wonderful plot. Loved the setting. Great characters. This book is highly recommended. Another great book written about the same time period is "The Partisan" by William Jarvis. Both are well researched historical fiction. Both books deserve A+++++

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2014

    Would read again!

    There aren't too many books I read and immediately want to read again. This one is a definite re-read! I enjoy a little history, a little romance, a little mystery...this book had it all.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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