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The Kashmir Shawl

3.91  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,188 Ratings  ·  614 Reviews
Spanning decades and moving from the stark beauty of the Welsh landscape to the Himalayas and Kashmir, this is a story of bravery, courage and love. Within one exotic land lie the secrets of a lifetime! Newlywed Nerys Watkins leaves rural Wales for the first time in her life, to accompany her husband on a missionary posting to India. Travelling from lonely Ladakh, high up ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published July 1st 2011 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published January 1st 2011)
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May 08, 2012 DubaiReader rated it really liked it
Shelves: vine, ew-am-bk-grp-1, 2012
An historic saga set in Kashmir.

It took me a little while to get into this book at first. Some of the descriptions were a bit dense and the swapping of time scales caused some initial confusion. However, once I had become familiar with the characters they started to feel like friends, particularly those from the 1940's time frame.

The central 'character' is a very valuable, finely woven and intricately embroidered Kashmiri shawl, found by Mair while clearing out her parents' posessions after her
Dec 26, 2011 Bowerbird rated it really liked it
I do admire authors who have researched their books well and give a true flavour of places they write about.
This book has two main storylines in it: the modern heroine Mair's adventures in India as she unravels the story of her grandmother, and that of Nerys, the grandmother, a missionary's wife who lived in Kashmir before the war and Independence.
I read the book while on holiday in Sydney visiting our daughter. On the day I finished it, my husband got talking to a lady running a stall in a sh
Kerry Hennigan
Rosie Thomas’ latest novel, The Kashmir Shawl, is a book I wanted and expected to like very much. The story of a woman who explores the unknown history of her late grandmother with the aid of a precious Kashmir shawl promised to be intriguing, with plenty of exotic locations and interesting characters. The locations include Wales, Ladakh and Kashmir, plus a few other places along the way.

We start out following Mair on her journey of discovery, but in fact, the lengthy flashback chapters that co
Oct 02, 2011 Anne rated it it was amazing

I think it’s only fair to declare myself as a massive fan of everything Rosie Thomas has ever written. And that my favourite stories are always those with a dual time frame. And that I have a bit of a “thing” about India at the moment. But even if none of those qualifications applied, this book was a really wonderful read. Dual time frame at its best – strong modern heroine in Mair, even better historical one in Nerys the newly-wed missionary’s wife and Mair’s grandmother. The premise of the sto
Helen Strobridge
May 06, 2012 Helen Strobridge rated it it was amazing
A wonderfully atmospheric book that I just couldn't put down, telling two parallel stories of a group of British women living in Kashmir during WWII, and the modern day re-tracing of their lives by one of their grand-daughters. I am not always a fan of books set in two time periods, but in this case it was done very well, with the bulk of the book set in the 1940s and long sections of the story told before each swap to the other narrative. The stunning descriptions of the landscape and the lifes ...more
Book Concierge

When her father dies, Mair discovers an exquisite shawl among her parents’ belongings. Neither Mair nor her siblings have ever seen the shawl and can’t imagine what it means. But they remember that their maternal grandparents had been missionaries in northern India and surmise it was brought back by their grandmother. Even more intriguing they find a lock of a child’s hair wrapped in the shawl. Mair decides to go to Kashmir to try to find the origins of this work and how her grandparents m
Aug 05, 2012 Jeffrey rated it it was ok

The first chapter is a struggle and you'll have to turn pages to get past it with a yawn but when you get to 1940s India the novel takes off.

Wonderful descriptions and upper and middle class people we can engage with - if stereotyped - and you really get a feel for life on the lake in that time. Gripping and atmospheric and something to learn.

But then you go back to the present... All we want to do is get back to the past.

You might just skim through this and read about the 1940s...

Jackie Molloy
Apr 14, 2016 Jackie Molloy rated it it was amazing
Following the death of her father a young woman sets out to discover more about her grandparents lives. A beautiful shawl is the clue that she follows up to Kashmir. The narrative unfolds at an empathic pace, describing the internal and external lives of the women set in two different time frames and the men who swirl in and out of their lives, affecting them deeply.
It is thoroughly lovely book, beautifully written, evocatively describing the beauty of India’s mountain region, both harsh and lus
May 09, 2012 Anshul rated it really liked it
There is an unbelievable authenticity about this book as the story and the description of the life in Kashmir in the 1940s unfolds.It might pass off as total imagination to non-Kashmiris and to someone who has not lived in the valley for a good period of time.Totally out of a picture.
The story is brilliant and captures one's curiosity.The sinusoidal pattern of Nerys' story in 1940s and Mair's quest in the present day is beautifully presented.The vivid description of the backdrop and the sounds a
Lynda Hunter
Aug 16, 2013 Lynda Hunter rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I read it as past of a Book Club read and others in my group found it a bit tedious and slow. I didn't find that at all. In fact that was one of the things I really liked about it. I felt I was on a journey to Kashmir myself and enjoyed all the little "asides" which helped me to see it all so clearly in my mind. I have always wanted to go to India and probably now will never get the opportunity so it really had a special pull for me. I also love fiction which actually also tea ...more
Nov 04, 2011 Daffy rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Brilliant! The Kashmir Shawl tells the story of three British women living in Srinagar, Kashmir during the second world war. The author has researched minutely both the history and the environment, yet unlike some novels, though integral, this never inhibits the characters or overwhelms the story. The characters are fully rounded and believable, the reader is seemingly effortlessly transported to the paradise that was Srinagar. But as well as the story of Nerys, Myrtle,Carline and Nerys' grand-d ...more
Apr 25, 2016 Francis rated it really liked it
A classic example of why you should never judge a book by its cover - in this case designed with tasteful girlie pastel shades and a cliché-filled blurb aimed at the romantic chick-lit market, but containing a highly readable and well-written work of historical fiction. Separated by over half a century, parallel stories unfold of joy and tragedy, bravery, dutifulness, endurance, cruelty, mindless arrogance, imperialism, racism, sexism, fanaticism, state repression, terrorist violence, compassion ...more
Aug 31, 2015 Anne rated it it was amazing
An amazing book, takes a while to get into, with a long complicated plot, and two narrators, Mair Ellis and her grandmother, Nerys Watkins. Mair has been clearing her father's house, following his death and finds a beautiful antique shawl, with a lock of child's hair.

A mystery unfolds, as Mair travels to India, to trace her grandparents' roots. Along the way the story gradually unfolds, this is a very emotional journey, for Mair herself and the story of her grandmother and several of her close
Jan 16, 2015 Adite rated it liked it
The Kashmir Shawl is an intricately woven story much like the eponymous garment. The threads of stories set in different times and locations, the texture and craftsmanship of storytelling make for a mesmerising broad canvas story. The highlights of the book include the manner in which the author skilfully skims from modern day Wales and Kashmir to colonial India of 1940s without missing a beat.

After Mair's father dies, she finds a beautiful Kashmiri shawl and a lock of hair tucked away in their
Sep 06, 2014 Leslie rated it liked it
Past and present and the unraveling of old mysteries - the kind you find when your parents pass on and you discover hidden treasures/photos...... and wish that above all else, you could have just one more day with them to hear the stories that were left untold. This was the story untold, revealed through a grandaughter's determination to solve the mystery of the shawl.
".....the world wasn't black and white as far as love went. There were infinite permutations of colour, and a hundred thousand gr
Feb 08, 2014 Lianna rated it liked it
Two different stories about two women, a grandmother and one of her granddaughters.
The book starts in the present when the granddaughter, after her father's death, finds an exceptionally beautiful scarf, that once belonged to her grandmother. Not knowing the origin of the scarf other than from India, nor recognizing two of the three ladies on her grandmother's photograph plus her questions about the origin of a lock of hair, Mair decides to travel to India to find out about her grandmother's lif
Maureen Timerman
Jan 19, 2013 Maureen Timerman rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
What a story Rosie Thomas was written, she had me walking with the Characters through the streets in India. I could almost smell the goats, as was described. We experience the life with the Raj, and the slums.
The story begins with the death of her father, Mair finds a beautiful Kashmir Shawl among the belongings. She also finds an old envelope with some hair stored in it. Thus begins her quest for answers, and her trip to India.
There are actually two stories told here, some of it we know but Ma
Jun 05, 2012 Parita rated it it was amazing
Starting with the discovery of a Kashmir shawl in her childhood home in Wales, Mair embarks on a journey to discover the past of her late grandmother, Nerys to learn about hidden family secrets, and solving a puzzle that had become stagnant in time. Spaning decades and international boundries, this tsory flows through the fun filled Raj days in India, the war crisis in 1945 and post war changes in lives of people who were at home away from home, the missionaries and Raj employees in India. This ...more
Jan 15, 2013 Becky rated it it was amazing
The Kashmir Shawl by Rosie Thomas
I loved this book. The writing is gorgeous. I found myself rereading passages to savor the words. That is, until I got caught up in the story! Now I am planning to reread the book so I can appreciate the writing skill that is so evident.
The characters are real. The conversations are real. The situations the characters find themselves in are real. The only flaw (if it is a flaw) is that all of the ends are tied up so neatly – especially Farida and Zahra – that on
Oct 17, 2011 Jenni rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british-author
I’ve read a few of Rosie Thomas’ books and always enjoyed them. When I heard that her new book had some Welsh involvement I was pretty confidant that I’d enjoy this one too and I was right.

There are two key plot lines within the book, there is the story of Mair who is trying to trace her grandparents’ story and discover where this beautiful shawl came from, and there is the story of her grandparents, Nerys and Evan Watkins, and their time in India as missionaries. The narrative moves back and fo
Feb 20, 2013 Fran rated it it was amazing
The Kashmir Shawl
Rosie Thomas

Two women travel the same road but in different time periods in search of their own identity. Mair begins her journey when her father passes away and within his effects she finds a shawl made of Kashmir. The intricate weaving and the story told within the tattered folds of this woven shawl create a tapestry within it that holds a story about the past. As she tries to read his piece and understand each design in the hope of learning more about her grandmother and her
Read for a book club, this was a fine book with a great setting and I liked it, but didn't love it. It took a long time to get going, there was so much foreshadowing that I wasn't much surprised by any of the reveals, and there was a long winding up section at the end. That said, the premise was interesting, where a modern Welsh girl finds a mysterious shawl belonging to her long-deceased grandmother while cleaning out her recently deceased father's home. As she begins to trace the provenance of ...more
Aug 05, 2012 Cardmaker rated it it was amazing
Great story! The timeline moved between war torn India and present day Wales and India. While clearing out her parents' home after her father's death, Mair (rhymes with fire) Ellis finds a beautiful woven shawl and, wrapped within it, a lock of hair. She knows it came from India from her grandmother whose husband was a missionary there during the war. She decides to travel to India to see if she can find out where the shawl came from and whose lock of hair is with it.

The biggest part of the book
Jul 13, 2014 Vickstar rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
It was OK. I didn't hate it but it was disappointing. I do enjoy a light romance or mystery every now and again, especially one with an interesting historical setting and I imagine that's what prompted me to pick this book up (it's been in my to-be-read folder for so long I can't remember buying it - maybe a daily deal?). This book fits the category of a romance where the author has done a lot of research about a particular place or historical way of life (Kashmir, shawl-making) to provide the b ...more
Feb 25, 2016 Alison rated it it was amazing
A wonderfully entertaining and beautifully told story, of two different generations of a Welsh family, Mair Ellis in present day goes to India in search of the history behind a shawl that is found in her parents house in Wales after her father dies. The Shawl had belonged to her Grandmother, Nerys Watkins, whom she did not know a lot about, but who had gone first to Kashmir and colonial India with her missionary husband Evans, before and during the time of world war II. The author gives us beaut ...more
Jo Barton
I wanted to really like this one as Rosie Thomas is one of my favourite authors, but I was strangely under whelmed by this story of the quest to find the secret behind the beautiful Kashmir shawl which Mair finds hidden amongst her late grandmother's possessions. The search for the truth behind the shawl takes Mair back in time to the India of the 1940's, where a story of an illicit love affair is centred around the dying embers of the British Raj.

I thought that the historical aspect of the stor
Mary Neary
Apr 04, 2012 Mary Neary rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading about the region of Kashmir and the parallel timeline allows the reader to experience two stories, one set during the 2nd World War and the other in the present. The feature that binds these two stories together is a Pashmina shawl which is produced from the finest wool in the world, the Cashmere goat. The story spans many decades and touches several regions, including the Kashmir region of India, Wales and the Swiss Alps. It touches on the colonial aspects of Kashmir as well a ...more
3.5 rounded down

I would *really* have liked to have given this book a 4 or 4.5 star rating, but I just couldn't. The writing was too uneven. The plotting was very interesting and the interweaving of the storylines was fun (though not always plausible). The book did inspire an interest in Indian/Pakistani culture and politics that I have not had before. I just wish there had been a tighter hand in the editing process to make this a brilliant book instead of an average one.
Apr 07, 2015 Anita rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-books
I am currently re-reading this book. The first time I read it I really enjoyed this dual story of Mair and Nerys her grandmother to whom the Kashmir shawl of the title belonged. The descriptions of India were vivid and memorable, the storyline fascinating, and the characters well-drawn. I thought the two stories cleverly intertwined, and I became emotionally engaged with both women as the landscape of India and the current lifestyles changed both of them dramatically.
It was a story which I coul
Apr 03, 2015 Normalene rated it it was amazing
Everyone has been looking for the next JoJo Moyes and while I think this author may predate her, she writes somewhat in the same style. This book tells the story or Mair, a Welsh woman who has had an unconventional life, after she finds a fabulous Kashmir pashmina in her parents house when she and her two siblings are cleaning it after her father's death. She decides from what little she already knows to go to India and research the history of the shawl and how it ended up in her grandmother's c ...more
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Reading Buddy Style: January 2015: The Kashmir Shawl 1 3 Dec 14, 2014 08:30PM  
Ignore the book name above please. 2 17 Nov 24, 2014 06:01AM  
Goodreads Librari...: 1 book / 2 translations apart 5 44 Mar 29, 2013 06:17AM  
Ravelry Knitters: July 2012 Group Read - The Kashmir Shawl 24 134 Aug 27, 2012 12:05PM  
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Janey King, née Morris was born on 1947 in Denbigh, Wales, and also grew up in North Wales. She read English at Oxford, and after a spell in journalism and publishing began writing fiction after the birth of her first child. Published since 1982 as Rosie Thomas, she has written fourteen best-selling novels, deal with the common themes of love and loss. She is one of only a few authors to have won ...more
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“Mair sat down on the bed. The ancient pink electric blanket was still stretched from corner to corner, and she thought of the weeks of her father’s last illness when she had come home to the valley to nurse him, as best she could, and to keep him company. They had enjoyed long, rambling conversations about the past and the people her father had once known.” 0 likes
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