My love affair with India by Alison McQueenThank you for inviting me along to Passages of the Past to talk about my strange affair with India.
I didn’t visit India until I was in my late thirties. My mother (who was born in Assam in 1928) had gone occasionally with her Indian friends, but she had never suggested taking any of us with her. I heard hear declare once that none of her children had any interest in visiting India. She couldn’t have been more wrong. I told her that I had been waiting a very long time for her to introduce me to the other half of my heritage. A small argument ensued and we got on a plane.
It was as though I had finally found the part of me that had always been missing. We went every year for the next decade, travelling around India together while my mother told me everything. I shall always cherish the memory of the two of us sitting out in the wilds of the jungle late at night listening to the song of the nighttime, holding hands.
Part of Under The Jeweled Sky is set in a maharaja’s palace in 1947. Although the fictional palace and its location are anonymous, I did have an inside track into life in an Indian palace. In her twenties, my mother was hired as the private nurse to the Maharaja of Indore’s mother-in-law. She arrived from Bombay and was shown to her quarters, an enormous suite in a grand building set across the grounds from the main palace.
A car was sent for her every morning, but she said that she preferred to walk. So off she would go, strolling through the grounds while the car followed along a few yards behind, driving at snail’s pace in case she should change her mind. Her breakfast would be served to her on a solid silver service, with a footman standing by should she want for anything.
From what she has told me, I am not sure that she handled it particularly well. She said that she didn’t want any fuss, which was quite the wrong way to go about things in a palace. There was also an incident when she was caught preparing her own boiled egg, which didn’t go down at all well. The cook was quite overcome with grief, and my mother never ventured to lift a finger again.
A breathtaking story of forbidden love and devastating consequences...
The moment Sophie steps onto India's burning soil, she realizes her return was inevitable. But this is not the India she fell in love with ten years before in a maharaja's palace. This is not the India that ripped her heart out as Partition tore the country in two. That India, a place of tigers, scorpions, and shimmering beauty, is long gone.
Drawing on her own family's heritage, acclaimed novelist Alison McQueen beautifully portrays the heart of a woman who must confront her past in order to fight for her future. Under the Jeweled Sky deftly explores the loss of innocence, the urgent connection in our stars, and how we'll go to find our hearts.
Praise for Under the Jeweled Sky"Beautiful and brave and bittersweet—a moving story of how love in all its forms binds us together and endures, in spite of everything."—Susanna Kearsley, New York Times bestselling author of The Firebird and The Winter Sea
"Bursting with the evocative glow of long-forgotten India...lures you into a beautiful story of scandal, hope, and the kind of love that marks us forever."—Kathleen Grissom, New York Times bestselling author of The Kitchen House
"McQueen has a fine sense of place and character... A richly imagined story of love, politics and fate."—Kirkus
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About the AuthorBorn in the sixties to an Indian mother and an English jazz musician father, Alison McQueen grew up in London and worked in advertising for twenty years before retiring to write full time. In 2006 she was selected from an impressive longlist to join The Writers' Circle - a group of 8 top writers chosen to be groomed by the UK film industry as the new generation of British screenwriters. An award-winning blogger, she is also the author of a series of popular novels (published by Macmillan) under a pseudonym. Alison lives in a quiet English village with her husband and two daughters. Her novel, The Secret Children, was selected by The Independent for their alternative 2012 Booker list.
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Other Books by Alison McQueenThe Secret Children Giveaway Thanks to Sourcebooks I have one copy up for grabs! To enter, please complete the form below. Giveaway is open to US only and ends on February 16th. Good luck!
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