To scatter her brother’s ashes over the Narmada River, Fabienne leaves France for the mysterious India of her childhood dreams. Soon, as she awakens to a newfound spirituality, unexpected visions of a former life during the Raj stir ancient yearnings for a long lost passion.
Mukunda, the palace architect Fabienne loved a century and a half ago, lives again as an American engineer and works on the local dam project. But, in the karmic land of the blue gods, the Kali worshiper who murdered the two lovers in a faraway past also awaits...
P R O L O G U E
GANESHPUR - INDIA - 1849
The flames devouring the jungle muffled Lakshmi’s desperate call. She squinted through the smoke. The messenger said her beloved would be waiting by the hot springs, so where was he?
Gasping, Lakshmi steadied herself with a bloody hand against the bark of a tall banyan. She wiped the sweat from her forehead, then raised her veil to cover nose and mouth. Black clouds from the blazing jungle dirtied the blue sky of May. Coconut trees, palms, sugarcane, papaya trees and banana stalks steamed and cracked ominously under the assault of the fire.
In the mounting heat, Lakshmi hitched up the red cotton sari to run, but in which direction? Down, toward the river. In her flight, strands of black hair escaped the veil, threatening to ignite at any flying spark.
Lakshmi cried out when she stumbled. Catching herself she paused, hand on her chest. A tiger! She held her breath, while the feline rushed by silently, intent on its own escape. Beneath the girl's bare feet, the jungle ground slithered with cobras, huge rats, and burrowing insects. Overhead, birds and monkeys shrieked frantic warnings as they fled. A dark crocodile shot out of a thicket. Lakshmi gasped, but the ancient beast disappeared into the underbrush. The river should flow near, but where? The pounding roar of blood rushing through her veins covered even the sound of the inferno.
Lord Ganesh, Elephant God, do with me as you please, but keep Mukunda safe!
The stink and loud trumpeting of elephants gave the girl hope. Hunters! They’d know the way out. Relief washed over Lakshmi. I’m so grateful for your help, Lord Ganesh, but please, save the man I love. Panting, the girl labored in the direction of the sound. Thorny branches snagged her sari and scratched the creamy skin of her belly, but she kept running. When she reached the clearing, half naked slaves shouted as they gathered the Rajah's herd, jerking the animals' heavy chains.
"Help me!" Lakshmi managed to yell between gasps.
Perched atop the largest elephant, the master mahout stared at her from under a turban. A dangerous smile lit up his face. Lakshmi felt her legs dissolve when she recognized the huge garnet on the man's chest. He worshiped Kali The Black with the Rajah's daughter and her murderous priests.
Spurring the big bull forward, the mahout barked an order. The old elephant trumpeted in response, answered by his herd. Within seconds, the ground shook. Saplings shattered under the charge of the pachyderms. Bellows filled the air as the herd stampeded, tearing the burning jungle asunder.
Fear constricting her throat, Lakshmi turned to run. Her foot caught on a banyan root. "Mukunda!" she called as she fell.
Lakshmi couldn't move. Lying in black mud, she looked up and saw branches crashing down in flames. Suddenly, the wide foot of an elephant blocked the gray light and descended on her face, silencing a scream.
|Publisher:||Blue Planet Books, Incorporated|
|Product dimensions:||5.54(w) x 8.45(h) x 0.70(d)|
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
As someone who has a lot of relative experience growing up in Indian culture, this book is super corny indian version of a harlequin romance novel. If you can't get enough of those "and they were meant to be together, he was a duke and she was a lowly girl" type books, then this is definitely for you. If you are looking for more of a substantial read; look elsewhere. I only finished it because I started it.
Schartz pens a fascinating tale of karma and the power of love with "Ashes for the Elephant God." Fabienne journeys to India to honor her brother's dying wishes only to come face-to-face with her destiny. The novel opens with Fabienne making the decision to go to India and spread her dead brother's ashes in the town of Ganeshpur. Her brother believed in karma and reincarnation, but Fabienne isn't so sure. Still, she keeps an open mind. Fabienne travels from France to India and stays at the Ganeshpur monastery. While there Fabienne meets Kora. Kora is also staying at the monastery. Kora has a bad attitude and is full of negative energy. Despite that, Fabienne comes to enjoy monastery life and resolves to help Kora overcome her negativity. Nearby, an American engineer, Alex Springfield, who the head swami renames Mukunda, is working on a dam. He has a one night stand with Kora who quickly manipulates the event to her advantage. Claiming she's pregnant, Mukunda reluctantly agrees to marry her. Stuck in a commitment he doesn't want, when Mukunda meets Fabienne, he knows she's his soulmate. Still, he reluctantly stands by Kora. After the dam fails to hold during a flood, Fabienne is trapped in a mudslide. Mukunda realizes he must follow his heart, but is it too late? Schartz uses a fine touch in dealing with such concepts as karma and reincarnation, never preaching, but showing the reader through the characters the power of karma and how reincarnation allows the soul to grow. The plot is interesting, referring back to Mukunda and Fabienne's past life. The pacing is a bit slow in the beginning, but reflective of Fabienne's journey and acceptance. There are a lot of foreign terms used in the text, but there is a glossary in the back to help the reader along. The cast of characters is rich and deliciously complex as they have karma to work through. Kora has issues she needs to reconcile. Amit is a good and loyal friend. Fabienne is an honest soul and trusting, almost too trusting. Kora attempts to take advantage of this. Ultimately, Fabienne must come to see who Kora really is and she must stand up to her. Mukunda has a good heart, but a momentarily lapse of judgment puts him in an impossible situation. He must find the strength and will to overcome. Schartz's love scenes are tasteful and sensual. The novel inspires the reader to take a deeper look at their own spirituality. "Ashes for the Elephant God" is an intriguing story about the power of karma and love.
It was an easy read that had all the elements of a good story, but it seemed like a cheesy Hari Krishna love story. It seemed so predictable, that I didn't even have to finish the book, to know what the ending was. Also, it seemed really lame how they all figured out who they were in their last life.
In France, Seventeen year old Jean-Francois died of AIDS. His last wish was for his sister, Fabienne Beranger, to take his ashes to India and scatter them over the Narmada River. Once done, Fabienne found she wanted to stay awhile. There, she learned that she had been reincarnated. Back in 1849, she had been known as Lakshmi. She had been a commoner. (Her fiancé had been Mukunda.) Lakshmi had been murdered, trampled under an elephant, by a Kali worshiper. Princess Korana had wanted Mukunda in her bed. When told of Lakshmi's death, Mukunda directed his anger at the princess, knowing she had somehow been responsible. He died, never seeing his beloved again.
Mukunda was reincarnated as an American. He was called 'Sahib' by all, but had the honor of being renamed by a swami named Baba. He was renamed, amazingly, Mukunda. He was the chief engineer of the dam project in India. The project had about ten more months of work to be completed. He met Kora, who worked in the beauty shop. She had an Australian accent in today's world. (But you guessed it, she was the Princess Korana from the past!) She, again, wanted Mukunda as her own.
Once again, Mukunda and Fabienne were reunited in love. Yet, once again, Kora would try to tear them apart!
**** Author, Vijaya Schartz, succeeded in making Princess Korana the type of villain that everyone loves to hate! That alone shows major talent! The story was slow to start off, but once done (and it did not take too long) I was hooked! The book blended the past and present so well that, while reading, I was not sure which time intrigued me more, 1849 or present date. In fact, I'm still not sure! The characters were well developed. By the ending, I even saw Kora in a different light. An extremely satisfying read! ****