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Thomas (Lovers & Newcomers), best known as a romance author, weaves a love mystery in her latest work that's light on plot, but heavy on rich characters and scenery. While cleaning out her deceased father's house, Mair Ellis discovers an old shawl that belonged to her grandmother, along with a curious lock of hair. Mair, a single woman who has floated through life, is moved to find out more about the shawl, the hair, and her grandmother Nerys, who once lived as a Christian missionary in India. She travels to Kashmir, where Nerys's story unravels in extensive flashbacks, as her then young grandmother's loves, pain, and enduring friendships take center stage. The premise of an old shawl triggering such an extensive journey is a weak construct and advances the story only at a molasses pace. Moreover, Mair never fully reaches her potential as an interesting protagonist. Though Thomas falls short in providing a present-day storyline, she makes up for it with the compelling, scandalous tale of Nerys in 1940s India, set against the dynamic backdrop of Kashmir. Agent: Jonathan Lloyd, Curtis Brown (U.K.). (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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Nerys Watkins is a missionary's wife in 1941 India. When her husband leaves her with friends in order to pursue a more arduous mission alone, the newlywed Nerys finds herself part of British colonial society in the exotic city of Srinagar. She makes friends-and decisions that will change her irrevocably. In present-day Wales, Mair Ellis is going through her late father's things when she comes across a beautiful Kashmir shawl that had belonged to her grandmother Nerys. Wrapped in the shawl is a lock of hair. Curious, and at loose ends after selling her childhood home, Mair travels to Kashmir in search of information about the grandmother she never knew. Verdict Thomas (Lovers and Newcomers) brings India to glorious life in this utterly engrossing and beautifully written epic novel, a best seller in Britain. She moves the story from past to present with ease, never allowing one story line to overwhelm another. Her characters are so interesting and realistic that readers will be reluctant to let them go. Fans of Joanna Trollope and Mary Wesley will enjoy this moving work. [Library marketing.]-Elizabeth Mellett, Brookline P.L., MA (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
*Starred Review* Sorting through her parents' possessions after their deaths, Mair Ellis discovers a Kashmir shawl that once belonged to her Welsh grandmother, Nerys Watkins. Nestled within the folds of this exquisite handwoven piece is an envelope containing a single lock of hair. Curiosity drives Mair to trace the history of the shawl, a quest that takes her from Wales to India. As she pieces together her grandmother's past, the two women's stories intertwine, transporting the reader between the Kashmir of WWII and the present day. The bulk of the novel belongs to Nerys, a missionary's wife whose undemonstrative husband urges her to spend the winter in Srinigar with a friend while he spreads Christianity in remote settlements. Nerys is forever changed in this romantic city, blossoming in an illicit affair while being swept up in the dangerous unraveling of another's. The consequences resurface nearly seven decades later, leaving Mair with a life-altering decision. An avid traveler and thorough researcher, Thomas brings the flavors and colors of India to life with vivid detail and develops characters so real one feels a kinship. An engrossing, intelligent, and satisfying read, this publication is the American debut of a UK best-seller.--Holcomb, Diane Copyright 2010 Booklist