Thursday, 29 December 2016
"In a far country" - growing up in a mission in India and then finding yourself alone in the world - review
19-century India, a few years after the rebellion. Pree (15) lives as the daughter of two very damaged and poor British missionaries in a rural mission. Her life evolves around her ill mother and taking care of the sick Indians who come to the mission for medical treatment. Kai, who is a couple of years older, and his mother Glory, a leper and a cook who are all Indian live there too.
In the next two years all the certainties in her life crumble away. Somehow that made me think of Dickens books or the one by Pallister. It makes one realise that in those days you had no social network to rely upon when things turned sour, no authorities to ask for help. That one day you could lead a very respectable life and the next month could be in the clutches of a whore madam.
When all seems lost Pree embarks on a journey to find the person she loved all her life in hope of his help and protection. But because of that journey she finds a totally unexpected happiness.
The book is well written and a real page turner. There was only one aspect I wondered about. A certain gentleman has a senior position in the government but is half Afghan - half British and was married to a Muslim Afghan woman. In the highly segregated society of British India - as it is shown in the book but also in others - I wonder if that was possible. The man also explains his British mother returned to England but his father somehow still lives in Afghanistan and it is clear he uses an English surname. So was he illegitimate? And was it then possible to have such a respected position? But I noticed it is the same surname as the writer uses in another of her books so maybe this gentleman is supposed to be related to that book and the answers to my questions are answered there.
"Pree Fincastle, daughter of impoverished British missionaries in India, is left alone and destitute when tragedy strikes. Turned away by the Church, she embarks on a journey in search of Kai, the son of her mother’s ayah, and the only person she can trust. But Kai is not the man Pree thought he was, and the secrets he holds will unlock the door to another world, another time – and, shockingly, another life.
Haunting, powerful, and heartbreaking, In a Far Country tells of an enthralling journey. From the whispering Ravi River to the bustling Grand Trunk Road, from the cantonments of Lahore to the bazaars of Peshawar, this is a breathtaking story of penury and prostitution, of tragedy and bloodshed, of secrets and love. But ultimately it is a story of hope; a story that, once read, will never be forgotten."