Book Reviews

A Present From India By M. J. Carreyette (Review #21)

Thank You very much to publisher – Troubadour Publishing Limited and NetGalley for the review copy.
Genre: General Fiction (Adult)/ Travel
Release date: 28 February 2017
Price*:£ 9.99 (GBP)/ $ 4.61 (USD)
Pages: ~368
My rating: 7/10
You can get this book here:
Summed up in few words: new experiences, looking for family roots, shadows from the past.
Description of the book: A tragic death first plunges a family into grief, then launches a widow and her daughter on a voyage of discovery. Intent on uncovering their family roots, they travel to India. Dee, a teacher in her thirties, wants to find out where her late father’s elusive relatives came from. But Eva, her mother, has a private agenda. She wants to track down someone she once knew long ago, when she was young. The story skips between generations, from modern-day India back in time to Soviet Moscow, a place in an era now lost, where Eva was a student in the 1970ies. Can either woman accomplish her mission in the limited time they have as they travel around the sub-continent trying to overcome the obstacles that keep appearing in their path? Can a secret be revealed at last? Rash actions can have long-term consequences, after all. As Eva promises Dee, it will be an interesting journey. Perhaps a little too interesting at times.

How this book made me feel: when I started reading this book, it did not hook me, and that remained till the end of the book. The main characters of the book were mother whose name was Eva and her half Indian, half English daughter Dee. I really admired Eva’s character in this book. She was like an old wise owl, I liked that, at least now she was wise and made good decisions.(what I wouldn’t say about her study days) Unfortunately I found Dee quite stupid and annoying, with her silly decisions and being stubborn with those not logical wishes she makes in the book. Because of these real life character features I found them both to be very realistic and believable, there are many mixed marriages in the UK and I liked the diversity of the characters. 
As it was mentioned in the description, there are two stories told of two generations. It is the trip to India which is happening at present and a time spent in Moscow in 1977. I really loved reading about Eva’s time in Moscow; it was really interesting to me. I enjoyed all the details author told about Moscow. I think that’s where authors experience comes in, she studied in Moscow during seventies herself, that’s why she was able to portray the city and the atmosphere of those days quite accurate. The relationship Chandra was having with Eva was really complicated and for me it kept the suspense going, that’s why I used to get excited once those chapters used to come up. Unfortunately the Indian trip was not very interesting to read for me. I think in many places there was too much detail which was not necessary. What drinks they had and what food they ate, I was not very interested in that. The characters wanted to see real India, but what was written in the book was far from the real India. Living in a hotel and travelling first class is not real India experience. It seemed like a tour which most probably author had, and this was the way to share the experience. As person who saw and lived in everyday Indian conditions, I can assure, it’s not like it was in the book. Even though I didn’t really enjoy the parts of India voyage, it made me want to take my mother there. I liked the relationship which Eva and Dee shared during that trip.
I liked the writing style of this novel; it has this lovely English way: refined and polite, avoiding conflict. I am a big fan of short chapters, or long chapters divided into smaller, so the length of the chapters was not my favourite part in this book as well. They were long and too boring sometimes. Another thing I really enjoyed, was the ending of this book. It was unexpected to me and made sense why the novel was written in the way it was. So to conclude, if you never visited India and have interest in Soviet history, you will enjoy this book and will find some exotic places and interesting way of living in 1970ties Russia. 
About Author: M-J Carreyette joined her local weekly newspaper in Wallasey, on Merseyside, UK, as a trainee reporter at the age of 18. It was the start of a lifetime in newspapers which ended abruptly in 2013 when the regional daily she then worked for in Cambridge dispensed with the services of sub-editors and unceremoniously made the whole department redundant. Back in 1972 an encounter on an early package tour to Moscow changed her life. An old Russian man hobbled up to her on sticks in one of the cathedrals in the Kremlin, and asked her to read him a brass plaque, because his eyesight was bad. She couldn’t. So she decided to do a degree in Russian. While studying for said degree at the University of Sussex, she won a Soviet-sponsored scholarship to study for a year at Moscow State University.  This, and a retirement trip to India once released into the wild again, form the background to her debut novel, A Present from India. She lives in Cambridge with her partner of 37 years. 
*-the price was taken from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com at current date. Price might change at your time of purchase.

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