This book is published on 18th February by Sandstone Press. My thanks to them for sending me an early copy and inviting me on to the blog tour.
Blood had begun to trickle down Asha's starched cotton salwar, and once more she tried to will herself to stay calm. It was nothing. These things happened.
But these things haven't happened before. It's August 1947, the night before India's independence. It is also the night before Pakistan's creation and the brutal Partition of the two countries. Asha, a Hindu in a newly Muslim land, must flee to safety. She carries with her a secret she has kept even from Firoze, her Muslim lover, but Firoze must remain in Pakistan, and increasing tensions between the two countries mean the couple can never reunite. Fifty years later in New York, Asha's Indian granddaughter falls in love with a Pakistani, and Asha and Firoze, meeting again at last, are faced with one more final choice.
This book was bold in scope and narrative and it did not disappoint. An epic story that spanned decades and showed some of the brutalities, desperation and sadness, and the ruining of the families and lives of so many. A story of a period of history that I am ashamed to say I knew nothing about. The Partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 and what it meant then for a Hindu girl to fall in love with a Muslim Boy.
Told from the perspective of Asha we follow her life in India and how she has to escape her home and life as she knows it, with her family as it was no longer safe. How alone and frightened she arrives in Delhi and has to settle to a life that maybe not of her choosing but the best she could have hoped for.
I have to admit it took me a couple of chapters to settle into the story. However once I did I was swept away to that time and place. The writing was beautiful and the story seamlessly flowed, considering the timespan that was covered. The descriptions of the places and the landscapes allowed me to imagine I was right there.
A story of love and survival but also of friendship. A story that shows that despite hardship, you should never give up on your dream.
I don't read much historical fiction but this story was as beautiful as it was shocking and I would highly recommend it. A very accomplished debut that had an almost cinematic feel to it, where I felt invested in the characters and the outcomes and where I had to gasp a few times as the events unfolded.
About the Author
Radhika Swarup spent a nomadic childhood in India, Italy, Qatar, Pakistan, Romania and England, which gave her a keen sense for the dispossessed. She studied at Cambridge University, and worked in investment banking before turning to writing. She has written opinion pieces for Indian broadsheets and the Huffington Post as well as short stories for publications including the Edinburgh Review. Where the River Parts is her first novel.