"Most days she found her own past too painful in its vastness."
England 1861. Intricate tale of a young Indian woman who married a British soldier, heir to a fortune. Similar to the biblical Ruth, when he and his father both died, she left India to follow her mother-in-law back to England. Neither realizing just how tough it would be. Severely rejected because of her race and nationality, both women were rejected and shunned by everyone and forced to live in a way neither had experienced before.
Lord Barric grudgingly felt compelled to help these women, relatives by marriage. At first, he just allowed Rena to glean from his field. The story is excruciatingly painful to read at times, vividly brought to life by this talented author. Unfairness of discrimination, both of race and because they were women in the society of this day and age. And the customs of both countries. Through Rena, the beauty of the Indian people is unfolded. Although in India, the people didn't respect widows at that time; treated them harshly. In many parts of India, widows were beaten and shunned, cursed and spat upon, their clothes stripped away and ornaments ripped from their piercings so even their skin and flesh were broken. In the Indian state of Punjab, the term for widow was synonymous with the word for prostitute. But love has no racial boundaries.
“We are so much more than our reputation,” she finally managed to reply, her face warming. “Stories cheat; truth is found only in friendship.”
I was blessed to meet and work with people from India for a while, even more blessed to call these beautiful people friends. A time and friendship that I will always treasure. I didn't learn nearly enough about them and the land that they came from. The beauty and dignity of the main character in this story made me think of them.
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