East of the Sun by Julia Gregson won the Romantic Novel of the Year, so I thought of checking it out, since it’s been sleeping on my bookshelf for a couple of months already. Some of you may already know I don’t dig romantic novels and chic lit. I have this impression that they all have cheesy story lines and cliché endings of happily ever after. And this novel proved me right. Maybe this is the only way to satisfy a romantic reader’s insatiable hunger for a good ending. Although I wasn’t really happy that there was a happy ending (I was really expecting some sort of a twist), I did however, enjoy the ride.
This story mainly revolves around three girls; Rose who was 19, the youngest of the lot; Victoria, or affectionately known as Tor, who was in her mid 20s (I can’t remember her exact age); and Viva (whose character takes most part of this novel) who were all on a trip to India for different reasons. Rose – to get married to a man she hardly knew; Tor her bridesmaid, who was glad that she could finally escape her mom’s clutches, and hoped to find a husband there; and Viva, Tor’s chaperone, to collect a trunk left by her deceased family. What they weren’t aware of, was the boundless adventures that were ahead of them. What’s a romantic novel without the men right? Here, we have a young boy, named Guy, who was also under Viva’s care. He was a very disturbed teenager who was about to meet his parents in India. Then we have the ever-charming doctor Frank, who was sent to India on an assignment.
The first quarter of the book tells about their stay on the ship that brings them to India. You’d also be introduced to the main characters that would shape the story. The plot thickens once they arrive in India, as you’ll discover that India wasn’t about to turn these ladies’ dreams come true, and things weren’t exactly what they should be.
Did I like it entirely? This is my first romantic novel, so I can’t really compare. It was to me, a slow unfurling read. I’d suggest you read this at night when everything else is quiet because its strong descriptions and narrations of India would transport you right to the place almost as immediate as the characters arrive. But to be honest, it wasn’t an unputdownable read for me, probably because I’m not much of a romantic. But here’s the thing, even if you haven’t read the book for days, you’d remember where you stopped without placing a bookmark because the story and images are vividly expressed.
Image of the book is taken from: http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Books/Pix/pictures/2009/02/04/215east.gif