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The Sapphire Child by Janet MacLeod Trotter

Writing.ie | Book Reviews | Historical Fiction

By Swirl and Thread

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The Sapphire Child by Janet MacLeod Trotter is Book 2 in The Raj Hotel Series and is published with Lake Union Publishing. Having read, and thoroughly enjoyed, The Emerald Affair, Book 1 in this series, I was delighted to be returning to India and to the gorgeous and atmospheric imagery that Janet MacLeod Trotter writes about so well. I wrote in December 2019 that The Emerald Affair was ‘a sweeping tale, taking the reader on a journey from Scotland to India’ and The Sapphire Child continues in the same fashion as the reader is taken on a wonderful voyage across oceans as the world faces the horror and turmoil of the Second World War.

Tom and Esmie now run two hotels in Northern India, The Raj-in-the-Hills Hotel, Gulmarg and The Raj Hotel, Rawalpindi. Their relationship has been put through the mill but they have come out stronger together than ever. Tom’s estranged wife, Lydia is now back living in Scotland following on from her very troublesome and damaging behaviour of the past. Their son Andrew remained with his father and boards at a very reputable school. Although Tom and Esmie have their secrets, life is content. Tom has chosen to keep his past from Andrew, lightly skipping over questions when raised. But Andrew is now getting older and at thirteen he is starting to question. Stella is an Anglo-Indian with a passion for India. At twenty years of age she sees the world in a very positive light and, although her family are employed by Tom and Esmie, she has never felt in any way inferior , accepted completely as a very important part of the greater Raj Hotel family.

Stella has a very close friendship with Andrew. They have always been able to talk to each other, to playfully joke and have fun. Stella treats Andrew as an equal, something he very much appreciates as he embarks on his teenage years. Following a shocking incident at school, Andrew returns to Scotland with Stella as his chaperone. His mother, Lydia, treats Stella with total disrespect and, with a few poisonous words about his past, she encourages Andrew to remain with her. Stella returns to India, heartbroken that she has had to leave Andrew behind but also excited at the prospect of possible love on the horizon.

As war breaks out, the lives of all change dramatically and the peace at The Raj becomes a thing of the past. Tom and Esmie are distraught without Andrew by their sides and when they hear he joins up, they fear for his safety.

With all the finer details depicted with great clarity, Janet MacLeod Trotter brings the reader into the trenches of warfare as the world is upturned and people’s lives are changed forever. Andrew and Stella embark on very different paths yet there is always a very tentative connection between them as the years of war roll on. Reading this series , and any of Janet MacLeod Trotter’s books, is a very immersive affair where all the senses are tantalised. The smells, the tastes, the colour of the Indian landscape come alive on the pages as love, grief, anger and fear play out before the reader. Every single character in this book is depicted beautifully giving the reader a real sense of their personalities. I would genuinely love to see this series come truly alive on screen as it really would be a treat and a joy to watch (she hopes!)

The Sapphire Child is a captivating and sumptuous novel, remarkably researched with wonderful and vivid descriptions of an India of yesteryear. It’s a chunky read at over 500 pages so be prepared to lose yourself in the nostalgia of times gone by. Historical fiction that will sweep you away, this is a perfect read to escape the winter blues.

(c) Swirl and Thread

Order your copy online here.

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