The Sandalwood Tree: A Novel

The Sandalwood Tree: A Novel

by Elle Newmark
4.5 16

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The Sandalwood Tree: A Novel by Elle Newmark

From incredible storyteller and nationally bestselling author Elle Newmark comes a rich, sweeping novel that brings to life two love stories, ninety years apart, set against the backdrop of war-torn India.

In 1947, an American anthropologist named Martin Mitchell wins a Fulbright Fellowship to study in India. He travels there with his wife, Evie, and his son, determined to start a new chapter in their lives. Upon the family’s arrival, though, they are forced to stay in a small village due to violence surrounding Britain’s imminent departure from India. It is there, hidden behind a brick wall in their colonial bungalow, that Evie discovers a packet of old letters that tell a strange and compelling story of love and war involving two young Englishwomen who lived in the very same house in 1857.

Drawn to their story, Evie embarks on a mission to uncover what the letters didn’t explain. Her search leads her through the bazaars and temples of India as well as the dying society of the British Raj. Along the way, a dark secret is exposed, and this new and disturbing knowledge creates a wedge between Evie and her husband. Bursting with lavish detail and vivid imagery of Bombay and beyond, The Sandalwood Tree is a powerful story about betrayal, forgiveness, fate, and love.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416597933
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication date: 04/05/2011
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 186,139
File size: 5 MB

About the Author

Elle Newmark is the acclaimed author of The Book of Unholy Mischief.  She lived and worked in the hills north of San Diego.

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Sandalwood Tree 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a wonderful story. I hated for it to end.
tangofrau More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books I have read. A page turner from beginning to end. The two intertwining stories are absolutely captivating and made me feel like I was there in India.............. Elle Newmark is a very gifted writer and I hope she writes more books in addition to the 2 she wrote so far. (The Chef's Apprentice is very amusing).
llamamia More than 1 year ago
I love reading books that are not only enjoyable but have something to be learned from them. The Sandalwood Tree is exactly this kind of book. While it is an intriguing novel dealing with the complicated history and caste system of India, it's also a love story and mystery rolled into one. It's obvious that Newmark has done a great deal of research and has captured the lovely vistas as well as the harsh poverty of the country. I learned about British Rule and Partition as well as suttee and other Indian customs. There is a bit of lesbianism in the story within the story, but it's not distasteful. I won't duplicate the plot summary but only relate a few thoughts I've come away with. The theme about "the choices we make defining our lives" will never grow old. Newmark goes even further touching on the "acceptance of life in all forms." And I loved how the author expresses Evie's concern for her young son, Billy, as she wants to "give him a soft launch into a hard world." Isn't that nicely phrased? I was a little confused by the cover and wonder why the stairs instead of a tree. Perhaps I've missed something? But whatever...this is a winner!
LASR_Reviews More than 1 year ago
It is the mid-twentieth century and (importantly) the aftermath of WWII. Evie Mitchell, husband and young son travel to India. It is the end of British rule, and the very start of enormous political strife within the country. However, political machinations are mostly a matter of backdrop. In all points, it is individuals who matter in this exquisitely written novel. Parallel love stories twine the lives of Evie and Martin (and a few friends) from the twentieth century, realistically with the lives or histories of people who lived in their same home nearly 100 years before. The incredibly rich and detailed backdrop is all the sights and sounds and smells of a foreign land, as it can only be experienced through the eyes of a person completely new to it. And Evie is somehow both open to the amazing world around her and the experiences of others, and simultaneously, purposefully, insulated. She lives there, but remains, in some sense, always a tourist. She adores Rashmi, her native housekeeper, but wants all her servants to learn English rather than she, in this foreign land, attempting to learn the language. She is intrigued by the histories of past lives and the impact and relationships of those lives of those of today, but not, it seems, in the case of the natives. This doesn't mean that a Hindu is left merely a shadow character - indeed, few could be more amusing than her cook, who will one day declare the imminense of an eggplant, and the next, disown it completely. Even so, the truly important people here are all of a western civilization or heritage. Through superb characterization, Newmark easily demonstrates how this was not an oversight on the part of the writer. This subtle failing is a purposeful part of Evie's, and somehow it makes her more human; exposes a fear or a failure any expatriot might identify with and it generates both impatience and sympathy in the reader. Her husband Martin's failure is more secret, more defined, and ultimately a catalyst for the future. Their relationship, doubtful at the start, does change throughout, though Evie's struggle to reach her husband is less important (to her) than her struggle to uncover and connect to the past. The dangers, possible loss, and emotion turmoil they will face is sometimes foreshadowed, but often not. There are physical dangers - possible loss - as well as the emotional strife. Newmark's contribution to serious literature must be acknowledged...yet the overall appeal of this specific storyline is limited. Literary fans will grumble at some points, while romance fans, at others. Still, I found this book utterly worth reading and I will be looking forward to her next, because her skill with the written word is most obvious. Originally posted at the Long and Short of It Romance Reviews
BiblioGal More than 1 year ago
Elle Newmark's novel is a tale of two times in India during the British imperial reign. The first story is set during the Sepoy rebellion in the mid-1800's and tells the tale of two young British women who eventually make India their home until their early deaths. The second setting is during the time when the British are pulling out of India in the mid-1900's. The protagonist is an American who moves to a small village with her husband who is on a Fulbright scholarship. The American slowly uncovers the mystery of the two British women through a diary she found in the house she lives in where the two British women once lived. The novel is a pleasant read and Newmark's thorough research of both India and the time periods are provocatively descriptive. I bought this book because I have read (twice now) an earlier novel of Newmark's, The Chef's Apprentice. While The Sandalwood Tree is a good read, The Chef's Apprentice is a remarkable read. I look forward to reading more by Newmark in the future.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A must read; I so enjoyed it!
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BookBobBP More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. Evie and her husband Martin travel to India in 1947 just as it is coming into its turbulent independence. Evie and Martin are also experience turbulence in their marriage due to something that happened to Martin in World War II. In the house they are staying Evie finds letters and journals of two Victorian English Women who tell there story which will lead Evie on her on journey of self discovery. I loved this book the History in it and the mystery and all the cool mystic of India made this story a great read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago