Under the Jewelled Sky by Alison McQueen: Guest Post & Giveaway

Please welcome Alison McQueen to Passages to the Past! Alison's novel Under the Jewelled Sky was just released on January 21 by Sourcebooks and I'm happy to be hosting a guest post and giveaway today as part of the release festivities!

My love affair with India by Alison McQueen

Thank 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

Buy the Book

Amazon (eBook)
Amazon (Paperback)
Barnes & Noble

About the Author

Born 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.

Author Links

Website & Blog

Other Books by Alison McQueen

The 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!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Thanks for a great giveaway! This looks like the perfect book to move me out of my reading comfort zones (Tudor England and 19th century Europe) and into something new!

  2. This novel would be captivating and memorable. Sounds wonderful. many thanks. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  3. I love Passages to the Past giveaways! Thanks once again.

    Alison, welcome. Thank you for sharing your story about your desire to be introduced at long last "to the other side of [your] heritage." My parents came from very different backgrounds, and there is one side of the family that has always remained relatively obscure, especially considering my father's close connection to his family's homeland. I deeply hunger for more knowledge about this heritage.

    I am very happy to hear the trip worked out so beautifully with your mother!

  4. Sounds like a great read - and I love the cover art!

  5. I loved this book. I am very partial to colonial India stories and this one really hit the spot. Don't count me in for this one (overseas).

  6. This book sounds so interesting. I just love reading stories about forbidden love. Thanks for having this giveaway.

  7. Love books about India! jtretin at aol dot com

  8. Oh this sounds good! I haven't read that many books set in India so this sounds like a win-win for me (historical fiction and chance to learn something new). Thanks Amy!

  9. I absolutely adored Under the Jeweled Sky! This was a great book and yes, I can admit, I cried more than once while reading it. Even now, just thinking about it makes me want to tear up all over again. What a story! (I already have a copy so this is just a friendly comment to say the winner of your giveaway is going to have a fabulous new book!)

  10. What an interesting book - I have always longed to visit India and look forward to putting this in my reading stack. I especially liked the cover - very beautiful.

  11. Ms. McQueen sounds like quite a promising young author, thank you for the introduction to her work. I'd love to learn more about India before Partition, hopefully there's plenty of that era in this book. Thanks.

  12. Ever since the Jewel in the Crown I have enjoyed reading stories about India

  13. I enjoy reading books set in India and will enjoy the romance, too.

  14. Ah, I love tales of forbidden love. I have added this book to my TBR and look forward to reading it in the very near future!

  15. Thank you so much for having me on Passage To The Past. It was such a pleasure.

  16. I love novels about India. This sounds deliciously romantic.

  17. I love stories that take place in India. Looking forward to reading this book.

  18. Book looks great...definitely the type I enjoy reading!


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