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The Sandalwood Tree

3.82  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,387 Ratings  ·  434 Reviews
From incredible storyteller and nationally bestselling author Elle Newmark comes a rich, sweeping novel that brings to life two love stories, ninety years apart, set against the backdrop of war-torn India.

In 1947, an American anthropologist named Martin Mitchell wins a Fulbright Fellowship to study in India. He travels there with his wife, Evie, and his son, determined to
ebook, 368 pages
Published April 5th 2011 by Atria Books (first published February 1st 2011)
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Elle Newmark
Apr 22, 2011 Elle Newmark rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
I think The Sandalwood Tree is a humdinger of a story. Of course, I wrote it so I might be biased. It involves two love stories, 90 years apart, set in war-torn India. The research for this book was fascinating. We Americans do not ordinarily study Indian history (world history is usually limited to Europe) and reading about the drama and pageant that was the British Raj was colorful and gripping. I topped off all that reading with a trip to India, driving around northern India to check facts an ...more
Angela M

What I liked best about this book was the beautiful, descriptive writing . Just a few pages in and I was there in India seeing what Evie sees as she first arrives in India - flowers , trees ,the market , and the people . I was glad to be reading it on my kindle so I could easily look up the flowers and trees mentioned as well as some of the Indian words and phrases.

Many recent books have used the mechanism of alternating stories blending past and present . It didn't quite work here for me. It s
I had high hopes for The Sandalwood Tree as I love historical fiction set in India - and I'm pleased to say that it didn't disappoint me at all.

This novel consists of two storylines, both of which take place during an important period of India's history. In 1947 we meet an American woman, Evie Mitchell, who has moved to India with her husband, Martin, and five-year-old son Billy. Martin, a historian, is planning to study the end of British rule and the process of Partition (the separation of Hin
Nov 05, 2012 Joan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This was an annoying book. Right from page 2 when Evie Mitchell refers to Gandhi as "a skinny little man in a loincloth". I wondered how Indian readers would regard this.

One narrative is set mid-20th C with Evie and her husband and son travelling to India on a Fulbright Scholarship. She appreciates the purpose behind the scholarship "to foster a global community" little in the rest of the book indicates she the scholarship is doing that for her. And little time is devoted to her husband, Martin
Genia Lukin
Sep 09, 2013 Genia Lukin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
It's fluffy, it's cutesy, it takes about a day to read.

It's horribly cliche in the most banal ways. Post-traumatic stress is resolved by an epiphany and a resolution. A wife with a promising career in science is happy raising her adorable, blond, beautiful child, and saves her husband through her womanly virtues. India is a place of acceptance and spirituality, flavours and smells, compared to the bland, arrogant West...

Et cetera, et cetera.

It's not a very god book. The only thing that saves it
Tara Chevrestt
This is a lovely and informative novel. The setting is India, both 1947 and 1858. There are five love stories in a way.. There's the heroine, Evie and Martin. They are married with a five year old boy. Their marriage was wonderful until Martin went to serve in WW2... now things are falling apart. Evie thought that coming to India would bring them closer together, but they have simply "exported" their unhappiness... In order to save their marriage, Martin must get rid of his inner demons and both ...more
Sandra Bašić
Jan 20, 2015 Sandra Bašić rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ova nam knjiga donosi dvije priče, s razmakom od 90 godina. Naime, sada je 1947., godina u kojoj polako prestaje prevlast Britanaca u Indiji. Kako bi upravo tu temu dokumentirao, Martin Mitchell (američki povjesničar i veteran 2. svjetskog rata) otputovat će u Indiju, sa suprugom i petogodišnjim sinom. Njegova supruga Evie pokušava održati brak živim i vratiti onog Martina, kakav je bio prije rata. U obavljanju tog ponekad vrlo teškog zadatka, naletjet će na pisma iz 1857. g. i jednu snažnu prič ...more
Mar 11, 2013 Ally rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Overall I was disappointed in this novel. The characters and the idea of the story were brilliant but the execution was poor. In a novel structured in this way it’s important (in my opinion) that the reader ‘discovers’ the history of the house’s former inhabitants at the same pace as the protagonist. Unfortunately, as a reader, I got to know more about Felicity & Adela than she did and therefore kept forgetting what Evie knew. I wish the author had stuck to the idea of telling the 1858 story ...more
Mar 24, 2011 Christine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: india, wwii, homosexuality
I received this book as part of the First Read giveaway program here at Goodreads.

First the Good
I loved the characters, relationships, and themes. I am interested in historical novels that take place in India, and those with a World War II theme. I liked that we got a mix of India during the Raj era, and post WWII. That was an unusual mix. I often felt very touched by this story, and really loved the ending. The characters frequently surprised me, and in the end I was left with a good warm feel
Rich in details and history, The Sandalwood Tree will keep the reader turning pages. A book that teaches while telling a great story is worth reading, and this book meets that criteria.

Martin, Evie, and Billy leave Chicago to live in India while Martin, a historian, documents the end of the British Raj. As they settle into a small town amid brilliant color, strange customs, and agonizing poverty, the tapestry of the story begins.

Against the wallpaper of a solid but troubled marriage and religi
Althea Ann
I couldn't help kinda sorta feeling that this book was intentionally crafted to appeal to Sarah Waters fans. But my feeling could be attributed to the fact that I had Waters' 'The Little Stranger next on my queue, and was impatient to start it.
The Sandalwood Tree isn't as good as Waters - but it's still an enjoyable book.; I very much enjoyed the vivid depictions of rural India. However, I felt that the connection between the American woman in India in 1947 and the Victorian lady in the same lo
I really enjoyed Elle Newmark's previous novel, The Book of Unholy Mischief. The Sandalwood Tree was my most awaited book this year. I am glad to say that it more than lived up to my expectations. The Sandalwood Tree by Elle Newmark is an excellent read, the best book I've read this year, till now. I adore books involving long-ago secrets, mysterious letters, strong female protagonists and tragic love stories; this book offered me all of these and more. Needless to say, I LOVED this book! Yes, L ...more
Aug 14, 2011 JudithAnn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
About the book: There are two storylines in this book. The first is the story of American Evie Mitchell, who has recently moved to India with her husband Martin and their five-year old son Billy. It’s 1947 and there are troubles ahead for India. Martin is researching the process of India becoming independent from England and especially the Partition (in which Pakistan and Bangladesh were formed).

Evie isn’t interested in joining the other ex-pats and wants to experience India first-hand. Her husb
Aug 21, 2011 Teresa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read and reviewed this book as part of the Transworld Reading Group Challenge.

I am very partial to well told dual time-frame stories although I usually find the contemporary narrative weaker so this is a rare gem indeed, a dual time frame narrative with both stories set in the past, both in India, one in 1947 and the other in the mid 19th century. I’m delighted to report that both stories drew me in from the opening pages and I was sad to finish this very engaging novel.

In the 1947 setting, Ev
Gabi Coatsworth
A terrific read. Elle Newmark did a wonderful job with her evocation of India in the 1850's and in 1947, when racial and religious tensions were high - largely as a result of the British Raj. I never felt she was shoving research down my throat, and yet she must have done a lot of it, because the story includes not only historical background but the sights and smells of India. Even more interesting is her consideration of what it means to come to terms with one's life, how fragile that life can ...more
Nov 15, 2012 Natalie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2012
Uživala sam u svakom elementu ove knjige: bogata postavka i kultura Indije tijekom dva važna razdoblja u svojoj povijesti, složen lik razvoja i odnosa, bezvremenski kvalitetnih temeljnih tema, zrak - misterija u cijeloj knjizi i uporaba pisama i dnevnika koji se koriste za ispričati priču o prošlosti.
Nekoliko puta me nasmijala oko samih likova, često me držala znatiželjnom što se dogodilo dalje; bilo sa likovima u prošlosti, bilo sa likovima u sadašnjosti. Jako lijepi opisi same Indije i života
Audrey K.
Jun 04, 2014 Audrey K. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"All we really have are our stories"...........this book is two stores woven beautifully together, and I thoroughly enjoyed this well-researched, marvelous read! Some of the story takes place in the U.S., some in the U.K., but most of it in India. Evie Mitchell, an American wife and mother, accompanies her husband and their young son to India in 1947, where her husband has accepted a work assignment. It is the time of the Partition, and Gandhi gaining popularity in India. The Mitchells travel to ...more
Deborah Pickstone
I much prefer it when a time travelling story uses a device like a surviving correspondence as the device.

This story focuses on two historical episodes; the Partition of India and the Sepoy Rebellion, both dramatic in outcome and essential to understanding modern India - something I make no claim to being able to do! However, the echoes of both events still reverberate down the channels of history. And both were really caused by an invading nation making decisions on behalf of another nation.

Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo
3.5 Stars

I finished this novel late last night and it is still on my mind. Elle Newmark has filled my mind and heart with beautiful images and sounds of India, circa 1947 and 1857. The Sandalwood Tree. is really two stories - one within a story. In 1947 Evie and Martin Mitchell arrive in India so Martin can document the end of the British Raj. Their marriage is crumbling because of Martin's War experiences - he is withdrawn and full of guilt and is suffering PTSD. Evie copes by cleaning and taki
May 13, 2011 Rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
he book is like a story within a story. The book begins with the framing story of a woman, Evie, in 1947, who accompanies her husband and young son to India with the dual purpose of seeking adventure and hoping to mend her failing marriage with a man just returned from World War II, broken. When she discovers a bundle of 90-year-old letters hidden in the wall during a cleaning frenzy, the second story of the friendship between Felicity and Adela is revealed. From there, Evie's story diverges fro ...more
Jirinka (sony08)
Oct 11, 2011 Jirinka (sony08) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
This is a story of Evie set in 1947. A young American woman who comes to live in a small Indian village with her five year old son Billy and her husband Martin. Martin comes to India to document the happening of Partition - the time when India separates and creates Pakistan so Hindu and Muslim people live separately.

Their own marriage is on rocks after Martin's return from fighting in the WWII. He doesn't talk about it, seems angry all the time and Evie feels like she lost her best friend.

Lindsay (Little Reader Library)
I have read and reviewed this novel as part of the Transworld Book Group Reading Challenge.

This is a beautifully written, enjoyable to read, dual timeframe novel. In 1947, Evie travelled from Chicago to India with her historian husband Martin and young five year old son Billy. Martin is on a Fulbright scholarship to study the last days of the British rule in the region. Their marriage is on rocky ground since Martin returned from serving in WWII a changed, quieter man, and Evie hopes things may
Yvann S
Aug 20, 2011 Yvann S rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Death steals everything but our stories.”

It’s the story of Evie Mitchell, who is in India with her husband in 1947. Martin is documenting history in action during the Partition on a Fulbright scholarship; Evie keeps herself making their little bungalow spotless and teaching English to a few local children. One day, she finds a concealed bundle of letters hidden away in the wall of the bungalow. While she can’t interpret very much of them, the reader is given access to a second storyline – the t
Sep 04, 2011 Carole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We first meet Evie and Martin as they are travelling to their new home in India where an old Sandalwood Tree with long oval leaves and pregnant red pods presided over the front of their new house.

Martin had come back from the war with combat fatigue, he wanted everything neat and tidy - it was about control, Evie knew, but she didn't know how to deal with it. By coming to India she hoped that their cracked marriage would be mended with exotic glue, and they would rediscover the charmed world the
Joanne D'arcy
Aug 17, 2011 Joanne D'arcy rated it it was amazing
Evie and Martin through Martins job recording the experiences of Partition move to India from Chicago, America. A cultural move and in some ways shock for all concerned as they both seem to be trying to move from on the past. They are in the centre of where the future is happening in India, as Partition is brought forward

Martin recovering from the Second World War and the atrocities he saw, haunts both him and Evie for most of the book until Evie finally finds out what happened and they slowly
Apr 03, 2011 Bookish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I devoured with great realish The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark and so very much looked forward to reading her newest book, The Sandalwood Tree. As she brought to life Venice in The Book of Unholy Mischief, Newmark gives us a colorful and dramatic India as the setting of The Sandalwood Tree. Setting again is key; India almost feels like a major character in The Sandalwood Tree.

Here, two storylines almost one hundred years apart pivot around key events in Indian history. In 1947, Evie
Jun 12, 2011 Darlene rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
This book is a very easy read, however it did not keep my attention at all. It was to tell two love stories, one from the past(late 1850's) and one in the present(1940's). The past love story involves a young girl who is a lesbian(not really my type of read), however after only one or two chapters(which I am glad about) nothing more happens. She is caught with her "lover" and then ships off to India. A second "love" story from the past involves a English women and an Indian man which of course i ...more
Julie Smith (Knitting and Sundries)
This review first appeared on my blog:

It is 1947 and Evaleen's husband Martin has received a Fulbright scholarship to document the end of the British Raj in India. Martin fought in the war in Germany, and came back a changed man. Their marriage has suffered because of it, and Evaleen hopes that this stay will help bring them back together. They and their five-year-old son Billy find themselves staying in Masoorla, renting a house. While Martin goes off to
Judy & Marianne from Long and Short Reviews
It is the mid-twentieth century and (importantly) the aftermath of WWII. Evie Mitchell, husband and young son travel to India. It is the end of British rule, and the very start of enormous political strife within the country. However, political machinations are mostly a matter of backdrop. In all points, it is individuals who matter in this exquisitely written novel.

Parallel love stories twine the lives of Evie and Martin (and a few friends) from the twentieth century, realistically with the li
Mar 17, 2011 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In 1947, American historian and veteran of WWII, Martin Mitchell, wins a Fulbright Fellowship to document the end of British rule in India. His wife, Evie, convinces him to take her and their young son along, hoping a shared adventure will mend their marriage, which has been strained by Martin’s war experiences.

Soon, Martin and Evie find themselves living in a colonial bungalow in the northern Indian town of Simla. It is in that house, hidden behind a brick wall, that Evie discovers a packet of
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Elle Newmark is an award-winning writer whose books are inspired by her travels. She and her husband, a retired physician, have two grown children and five grandchildren. They live in the hills north of San Diego.
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“I think that when you create borders based on ideology you create a reason to fight. When you live side by side, you create a reason to get along.” 2 likes
“It’s not that the past doesn’t matter, it’s that the future matters more, and the present matters most of all.” 1 likes
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