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Under the Jewelled Sky

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London 1957. In a bid to erase her past and build the family she yearns for, Sophie Schofield accepts a wedding proposal from ambitious British diplomat, Lucien Grainger. When he is posted to New Delhi, into the glittering circle of ex-pat high society, old wounds begin to break open as she is confronted with the memory of her first, forbidden love and its devastating consequences.

The suffocating conformity of diplomatic life soon closes in on her. This is not the India she fell in love with ten years before when her father was a maharaja’s physician, the India of tigers and scorpions and palaces afloat on shimmering lakes; the India that ripped out her heart as Partition tore the country in two, separating her from her one true love. The past haunts her still, the guilt of her actions, the destruction it wreaked upon her fragile parents, and the boy with the tourmaline eyes.

Sophie had never meant to come back, yet the moment she stepped onto India’s burning soil as a newlywed wife, she realised her return was inevitable. And so begins the unravelling of an ill-fated marriage, setting in motion a devastating chain of events that will bring her face to face with a past she tried so desperately to forget, and a future she must fight for.

A story of love, loss of innocence, and the aftermath of a terrible decision no one knew how to avoid.

384 pages, Paperback

First published April 25, 2013

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About the author

Alison McQueen

4 books40 followers
Born in the sixties to an Indian mother and an English jazz musician father, Alison McQueen grew up in London and worked in advertising for 25 years before retiring to write full time.

Her acclaimed 2012 epic novel, The Secret Children, was inspired by her own family history, and has been translated into several foreign languages. Alison’s latest novel, Under The Jewelled Sky, winner of the prestigious 2014 EMBA Prize, is published by Orion (UK) and by Sourcebooks (US).

Alison is also author of the popular HOUSEWIFE novels, written under her married name and featured on the Richard & Judy Show (published by Macmillan between 2005 and 2011). In 2006, Alison was selected from a long list of 500 writers to join The Writers' Circle - a one-off project put together by the UK/US film industry to nuture and fast-track the UK's top 10 rising writing talents into screenwriting.

Alison McQueen lives in rural Northamptonshire with her family. She is currently working on her 8th novel.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 117 reviews
Profile Image for Aditi.
920 reviews1,333 followers
October 21, 2014
After reading Under the Jewelled Sky by Alison McQueen, I can't stop myself from quoting Rumi, the Persian poet's remarkable words,

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and right doing there is a field.
I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.”

If I've to express the book, Under the Jewelled Sky in few short words, then I would say:
Painful, raw and deeply moving!

All thanks to the author, Alison McQueen, for sending me over the copy of her book, in return for an honest review.

Let's move back to the time when India has got the power to overthrow the highly acclaimed British Empire from their land- the year is 1947! A sweet, innocent and pure love story blossoms between an English girl and an Indian servant boy inside a hugely lavish palace in Jaipur on the very day on India's independence.
Fast forward to 10years later, when we see that English girl Sophie getting married to a diplomat and settling back in New Delhi- the country which makes her heart skip a beat, to a country where she hid all her sweet memories in her closet of past dreams and hopes. Sophie's doctor father lives in Ooty and knows all about her fragile heart, but will she be able to keep her heart in place to make it work with her new husband? Has Sophie's heart stopped aching from the previous pain? Will the past haunt her upon her arrival to the country which made her feel the passion of a first love?

Can you feel the pain? Amidst of India's independence and peak of a new horizon, a love story blossoms, which will only make your heart flutter with joy! And the innocence of it might touch your heart and is bound to make you remember all the flames of your first love! What a bliss!

Let's talk about the setting- India- my country! But if I now start judging the book from an Indian POV, I would rate the book quite critically, since the author, who is too a British women, might have commented on certain stuffs about our country, that erupted a fire inside me! But to be honest, whatever she commented about India- was true! She has the brilliance in her words to capture such a colorful and culturally vast country! From her descriptions about The First Maharani's boasting to her demeanor to the clashes between Hindu and Muslims during the partition to the newly formed Government under Pt, Jawaharlal Nehru to the dusty roads that lead to the villages, everything- the author has made it alive with her words.

Her characters are coming from different cultures- some Catholic, Hindu, Christian, Muslim- am I leaving out anything else? It's quite rare that you come across such characters in your everyday novels that come from different backgrounds and strike you as the most relatable ones! Jag- the Indian boy represents his country- India. Sophie and Lucien represent England. Likewise, via this book you get to travel into so many unknown lands, get to know about so many forgotten stories!

Indeed Alison McQueen is a brilliant author since she has made her plot into a compelling tale with a medium-fast pace and a smooth flow of narration. And in the end, I swear that the book left me in tears. The story touched my heart so deeply, that it might take quite a while for me to get out of the aura of this book! But still somewhere, the book failed to irk the interest in me! In some places, the book became pretty boring!
Do read this book to relive those moments when a country gained its first freedom and when a girl and boy falls in love for the first time in their life and starts to explore the depths of their passion under a brightly-lit sky!
Profile Image for Patrice Hoffman.
553 reviews259 followers
January 5, 2014
What could be better than an historical fiction novel set in India during a time when the country was fighting for its independence? I had high hopes for Under the Jeweled Sky. I thought it was the perfect way to learn about the culture and history of India while reading an enchanting love story that features star-crossed lovers. Doesn't that seem like the ideal combination?

Sophie Schofield returns to England to visit her mother. It's obvious from the moment Victoria opens the door that there is something from Sophie's past that has caused a rift that can't be repaired. It doesn't take long for readers to see that 10 years could never be enough time away from Victoria.

Under the Jeweled Sky shifts focus between the present and the past when Sophie, as a teenager, lived in India. Her father was employed as a doctor for the maharaj. It is during these reflections that we learn a little more about India and the culture. This is also where the romance is brought to the surface. Sophie falls in love for the first time with an Indian boy, Jag. Because of his station in life (and very strong prejudices), she is told to stay away.

The novel seems to come full circle when Sophie and her present-day husband move back to Delhi. What better way to end a story than where it begins? Actually it may not be better at all.

What I enjoyed most about this novel was Sophie. It wasn't that she was a well developed character so much as when someone is in love, it's natural to want things to go well for them. She faces many obstacles but she never caved. Even when her less than ideal situations would have caused a weaker person to break down. She never played the victim nor did she give up hope.

What was most challenging about this novel is that the story doesn't unfold. It's never a moment I felt immersed into the world Alison McQueen created. It was almost like we were being told a story instead of living in the story with the characters.

My other gripe with this novel is that it's historical fiction yet I never got the facts or information usually coupled with period fiction. Yes there are social inferences that can be learned from this text but the single most important fact was left out. The novel takes place in war-torn India yet much of the war was off screen. There were no characters presented who had a stake in India's future besides only in passing.

Overall, Under the Jeweled Sky could have been so much more than it was. Although it wasn't a hit with me, I do recommend this novel to lovers of historical fiction women's literature. There is a little bit of romance and a little history, but mainly a story that suggests to never give up hope.

Copy provided by Sourcebooks via Netgalley
98 reviews2 followers
February 9, 2014
Under the Jewelled Sky by Alison Mcqueen ( Read October 2013)

From page one you are drawn into the story with its rhetorical questions standing unanswered. Daughter comes home after many years? There are so many questions. This is the story of Sophie Schofield who goes to India with her parents; her father, a doctor, works for a maharajah. There she finds herself in love with tragic consequences. Ten years later she returns to India as the wife of a Diplomat. The India she lives in is very different from the one she left. This is a story of family secrets moving from past to the present. The characters are well portrayed and the supporting characters brought to life on the page. The setting of this novel is the backdrop of India with four different aspects of the country: the maharaja’s palace, the horror of the refugee camps during partition, the life within the diplomatic enclave in Delhi and lastly the calm and beautiful Pilgrims.
I really loved this book - Be warned you will not be able to put it down once you start reading. I will be looking out for this author again and would definitely recommend this book as a title for Book Club discussion. This book gets 4.5 stars.

Profile Image for Mina De Caro (Mina's Bookshelf).
272 reviews70 followers
February 3, 2014
Full review available on MINA'S BOOKSHELF http://minadecaro.blogspot.com/2014/0...


If you have a soft spot for narratives that draw you in exotic locales, moral codes and social settings of a distant time, then Under The Jeweled Sky by Alison McQueen will enchant you. A star-crossed love story set against the backdrop of the British expat circles during the mid-century political upheaval that tore India, McQueen's novel truly is an epic tale of love and loss: beautifully choreographed and flourishing with a wealth of sumptuous imagery and elegant prose, Under The Jeweled Sky unfolds with filmic perfection and a cinematic quality that is too startling to go unnoticed.

The author adds depth to the historical dimension of her work without weighing down its delicate thematic structure: avoiding that excess of anti-climactic details and social commentary that so often plague historical fiction, McQueen captures, in her stirring narrative, the essence, the dramatic scale, and the devastating consequences of the political turmoil that brought a mid-century India to its knees, with the unrelenting sense of drama and the timing of a 'shakespearean tragedy'.

If there is a trope that can be so aptly and so powerfully woven into the narrative fabric and wide scope of historical fiction, that is the 'star-crossed lovers', the 'thwarted love' story: in the capable hands of Alison McQueen, that sense of human tragedy that invested the Indian nation in the grip of a civil war, trickles down and affects every cell of society, tearing up territories, communities and families, along invisible lines drawn by power struggles between religious groups. There is nothing like an unconventional love affair between two young, innocent lovers belonging to the opposite ends of the social spectrum, to render the magnitude of social and political conflicts typical of every era of transformation.

A heart-shattering and unforgettable read.

***Review copy graciously offered by the publisher via NetGalley in return for an unbiased and honest opinion.

***Read my interview with the author http://minadecaro.blogspot.com/2014/0...
Profile Image for Meg - A Bookish Affair.
2,445 reviews192 followers
April 15, 2014
"Under the Jewelled Sky" is the story of Sophie, an English diplomat's wife, who returns to India, a place that holds a special place in her heart. She has so many memories of India, both good and bad, and she is not sure whether she ever wanted to come back to India in the first place. This story has star-crossed lovers and a fantastic setting to boot set against a fascinating historical background.

I really enjoyed this story. It started out a little bit slowly for me but ended up being really good. I loved the story and loved how it unfolded. Because the book takes place in different times, the transitions did get a little confusing for me and I had to keep going back to figure out what happened when. Definitely stick with it though and you get a really lovely story.

The love story was one of the very best parts of this book. Sophie is a headstrong English girl who falls hard for Jag, an Indian boy. Their worlds are too different and they know that their families would not accept their love. Their love ends up ending but there is a piece that will go on and will prevent closure.

The setting of this book was awesome! I love reading about India. It seems like such an amazing place. This book takes place during a very changing time in India. I loved all of the history that was tied into this book. We get to see India's independence and the split between India and Pakistan. It definitely whetted my appetite to read more about India's history.

Overall, this is a great story that will be a treat for historical fiction fans that want a little romance with their reading!
Profile Image for Sourcebooks.
9 reviews322 followers
June 24, 2013
A pair of star-crossed lovers torn apart by their parents and a society who refuse to acknowledge their undying love for one another. As their lives move on separately but always seemingly guiding each other back to one another, they witness tragedies in the extreme, beauty in the simplest of things, and hope in the lowliest of times. They live for the idea that they once again might be together in the India they love and as a family they were always meant to be.

This book has so much going for it, including: a sweeping and truly epic love story, an ending that will stay with you for days, characters you fall in love with and who make you cry as their lives tumble about and they continue to carry on because they must, a time period that is both new to “historical fiction” and intriguing, and poetic and lush imagery throughout.

It truly was one of the best books we have read in a long while and definitely something you should add to your must-read list right away. In fact, this book was FANTASTIC, you should go read it now!
Profile Image for Heather Fineisen.
1,158 reviews112 followers
January 4, 2014
Alison McQueen manages to provide a little romance and a little history without going too far in either direction, and perhaps that's what makes this book a middle of the road read. The story line maintained. And that is enough for some readers. But the history of India is rich with strife and the love affair of forbidden races could really have taken this to something beyond general maintenance. McQueen clearly knows her subject matter and her characters, and this solid historical romance will be satisfying for some readers. For me, the promise of really good things to come throughout the book never delivered.

Provided by publisher.
Profile Image for Vicky.
125 reviews193 followers
April 24, 2013
Originally reviewed at:

Regular readers of the blog might know that it's quite rare when I read and review historical fiction or books with a similar subject matter. I've never really been interested in this genre and on the rare occasion when I did pick up a historical novel, I never seemed to enjoy it as much as I should have. However, there was something about Under the Jewelled Sky (possibly the idea of love and loss and a past better forgotten) which really piqued my curiosity and I decided to read it. Never in a million years did I imagine falling in love with McQueen's story as much and as quickly as I did.

Starting her story with a hint of a family drama and a dark past, the author introduces us to Sophie - a British girl who spent part of her childhood in India - and her mother who is visibly not too keen on seeing her daughter after so many years. We learn that it's been quite a long time since the two of them saw each other and they clearly haven't been in touch ever since. It takes a great deal of courage on Sophie's part to make this visit, yet her mother couldn't behave in a more rude and nasty way. When Sophie announces that she only came to tell her something, she refuses to listen. And Sophie leaves. Needless to say, it was only the first chapter but I was hooked already. What might have happened to cause such tension between the two women? What was Sophie about to say to her mother? I knew it would be related to some buried family secrets but the complexity of Sophie's past and what they've all been through back in India not only took me completely by surprise but made me read the last 200 pages in literally one sitting.

And the things I enjoyed the most about this book? Firstly and most importantly, the beautiful and flawless writing. I've never been in India or anywhere near it but McQueen's descriptions are so detailed, so vivid that I felt as if I was there with Sophie in the Maharaja's palace. I could literally see the surroundings, the lotus pool and various gardens, the beauty of the palace itself, down to the tiniest details. If that wasn't enough to convince me, the way the author handles characters and makes sure that not only are they realistic (and in most cases likeable too) but are very detailed and properly introduced as well is just fantastic. She doesn't go into lengthy tales about her characters' traits or their past unless it's necessary for the story, yet I felt like I've known them all my life. And I don't just mean the main characters. Everyone. I absolutely loved Sophie's father and the way he was always there when she needed him and Sophie and Jag's bittersweet relationship made me reach for the tissues many times throughout the story and it's definitely something I'm not likely to forget anytime soon.

This book has taught me to dare to read outside the box and try new genres and I must say an enormous thank you to Sophie at Orion, without whom I wouldn't have stumbled upon this gem. Under the Jewelled Sky is simply magical and it's safe to say that I enjoyed every minute of it. The story, McQueen's characterisation and Sophie's intricate past and the way she finds closure is breathtakingly beautiful - I can't recommend this highly enough.
Profile Image for Tripfiction.
1,607 reviews198 followers
October 16, 2013
Under the Jewelled Sky by Alison McQueen is a well written and sumptuously evocative novel about India, where the country is one of the integral characters. Set at the time of Partition and a decade or so later, the writing style is so atmospheric, that it draws the reader back to the mid 1900s, when there was huge political upheaval and huge change, as the British began to take their leave. On occasion the writing mirrors the language of the era, the period of the formal, slightly stilted ‘Queen’s English’ of the BBC, which enhances the sense of time. It is the India not only of Maharajas' Palaces, it is also the India of poverty, clay chillims, Sadhus, hooded cobras, and ‘the colourful business of daily life’. It is pithy, a country full of paradoxes. This is also the India where the British were at home – the author takes the reader, for example, to Ooty (Ootacamund, The Queen of hill stations) a piece of Victorian England that had ‘been scooped up and rearranged in filmic perfection, with frivolous gardens and gothic archways and a tranquil boating lake for lazy days and fishing’. You can quite imagine it through Alison McQueen’s writing.

It describes in wonderful detail the way the palaces might have functioned, and the role of the Maharanis, the wives, and the place the British might have held. Visiting a Maharaja’s Palace today – like the palaces in Jaipur …. floating on a shimmering lake – one could well imagine the cloistered movements, the opulence and the number of staff all quietly going about their business.

At the heart of the story is the friendship between Sophie, a British girl, whose Father is employed as a physician at the palace, and Jag, who is the son of a servant. In that era, such a friendship was severely frowned upon. Move on ten years and Sophie finds herself reluctantly in Delhi, married to Lucien, in an India that feels very different to the one she knew and revelled in when she was younger. Life has moved on in many ways – both in the country and for Sophie emotionally and personally, and essentially this is the story of how she tries to find some closure on things that have happened in her past.

The book, however, tends to fall down a little both at the beginning and the end. The relationship between Sophie and Jag, as we witness it developing early in the storyline, seems like that of two very young people, who feel perhaps like very young teenagers. There are kisses, but they feel quite chaste. The passion doesn’t penetrate the writing – yet it is the passion of their early friendship (and that is essentially what it feels like, a friendship rather than a relationship) that underpins the whole story going forward, and as things progress it is an unwelcome surprise to the reader to witness how things develop. Towards the end, Jag makes his arduous trip to find relatives in Amritsar, after Partition; the storyline meanders around the streets of relatives, and finally struggles to make a really meaningful conclusion to the story. A final postscript from Sophie in 1970s in California winds up the story and seems a bit random. However, despite these reservations, it made for a good read about India of that era and we are looking forward to reading The Secret Children by the same author.
Profile Image for Doreen.
983 reviews38 followers
October 23, 2015
I will preface my review by stating that historical romance is not my preferred genre. When I requested this title, I found it classified under literary fiction.

Sophie Grainger arrives in India in 1957 with her diplomat husband. This is not her first time in the subcontinent since she lived there ten years earlier when her father was a maharaja’s physician. During her first stay in India, she had an unconventional relationship with Jag, the son of an Indian servant, and the repercussions of that relationship follow her during her second sojourn: “memories have a habit of storing themselves up, like shoving things into the back of a closet. They’ll live there for so long as you care to leave them, and then, many years from now, you might find yourself cleaning out that closet one day and out they will tumble, all your memories of yesteryear.”

Characters are problematic in this novel. Many tend to be either too good or too evil to be believable. Veronica Schofield, Sophie’s mother, is part of the latter group. She is shallow, hypocritical, and abusive; one is hard pressed to find a positive quality. Jag, on the other hand, is just the opposite. He may be the romantic hero but surely there must be something this man cannot do? How many times does he cross a large swath of India? Even minor characters are unbelievable. Jag’s aunt, for instance, is just so loving and accepting of everyone. These characters are just not realistic.

The number of coincidences is also an issue. In a country with “four hundred million people,” Jag’s uncle locates Joy? In the midst of the Partition which saw the displacement of millions, Jag is chosen to work in the same clinic as Dr. Schofield? The author tends to emphasize the star-crossed lovers element a bit too much. Sophie is the one to initiate a kiss and then she and Jag totally discard all the values of their upbringing? Jag’s behaviour while a guard at the residential enclave does not ring true. Why doesn’t he identify himself sooner when he surmises the state of Sophie and Lucien’s marriage?

The historical element, on the other hand, is not emphasized sufficiently. The upheaval of the Partition is not conveyed very strongly. There is an attempt to show some of this during Jag’s stay at the refugee camp, but general descriptions such as “this unimaginable scene of human tragedy” do little to give a real understanding of the suffering of the displaced.

This novel would probably appeal to those readers who enjoy historical romances. It has the exotic location and the everlasting love that knows no bounds of time and space.

Please check out my reader's blog (http://schatjesshelves.blogspot.ca/) and follow me on Twitter (@DCYakabuski).
Profile Image for Teddy.
528 reviews65 followers
February 18, 2014
Under the Jeweled Sky opens in a terrible time in history for India, just before the Partition. Sophie is a teenager and her father moves her and her mother to India to work as a doctor at a palace. Sophie doesn't have a lot to do there but she enjoys wondering around the palace looking at all it has to offer. She is not really allowed into some of the places she goes and when she meets a teen Indian boy, Jag, he shows her all kinds of secret passages.

Sophie and Jag become fast friends but when his father and her parents find out about it, they are forbidden to see each other. Rumours start among the Indian workers about their relationship and Jag's father insist that he and Jag leave, despite how close his father is to retirement and a pension.

They leave, right at the start of the Partition and end up making their way to a refuge camp. They struggle from day to day, just to get their basic neccesities met and soon Jag's father gets sick.

Fast forward almost ten years later and Sophie has been living back in London, working in the government typing pool. She meets Lucien and he talks her into marrying him. They are then posted to New Delhi, India. They get wrapped up in the ex-pat high society and things start to happen.

I can't tell you more without the risk of spoilers so you will have to read this book yourself. The first part of the book is my favorite. I like how the characters of teenage Sophie and Jag develop and interact. After that the story flashes back and forth from present day to the past. Perhaps just a little too much for my taste but this is really just a small complaint. I still highly recommend Under the Jeweled Sky to historical fiction lovers!
March 6, 2016
18 year old Sophie moves to India in 1947 along with her physician father and her perpetually angry mother, Veronica. Sophie's father has accepted a position as personal doctor to the Maharaja, so Sophie is thrusted into the unknown world of India and the Maharaja’s opulent palace. The problem is there isn't much for her to do there. There are no other girls her age, so she finds herself wandering about the palace. While wandering, she meets Jag, who is her age, and the son of a palace servant. Normally this wouldn't be a big deal, but because it is the 40s in India, their friendship is one that wouldn't be encouraged from both sides. They shouldn't even talk to each other, let alone become friends. Nonetheless, Jag shows her the many hidden passageways in the palace and the beautiful gardens. As they spend more time together in secret, feelings blossom on both sides and a romance ensues. Of course, their parents find out and are horrified. Jag is sent away and Sophie fears she will never see him again. Fast forward many years later and Sophie is returning to India once again, but this time as a wife to a British diplomat. She wonders if she can ever truly forget her first love and being back in India makes it all that much harder. Alison McQueen's tender tale of first love, forbidden love and secrets is reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet. Fans of historical fiction and romance will love to be swept away by Under the Jeweled Sky; it's an extremely romantic, yet heartbreaking tale.

Read the rest of my review here: http://www.confessionsofabookaddict.c...
Profile Image for Mel.
750 reviews118 followers
February 9, 2014

What would you do for love? To what lengths would you travel?

Sophie Schofield, a young British colonialist living with her parents in India after WWII, learns that true love knows no boundaries, even if it is love for a servant boy within the maharaja's palace, for whom she is forbidden to see.

Author Alison McQueen, in epic form, recreates the life of British colonialism in India with a story that is as vast as the country itself.

I was swept away by the love story of Sophie and Jag, the boy she loved and would spend her life yearning for.

I was transported back to a time, that I knew very little about, when India gained Independence from Britain and chaos and mayhem reined. I felt like I'd traveled the entire country with both Sophie and Jag as their lives transversed in unexpected, and sometimes very tragic ways.

But where the story (and author) truly shined, was when Sophie, in the midst of an unplanned pregnancy, expresses unyielding love and grief over a baby that would be taken away from her, for no other reason than she was unmarried and the child was of mix race. It was a beautiful, if not tragic scene that made this mother (and adoptee) weep.

In the tradition of The Thorn Birds...or another book where characters. forbidden love, and continent play such a vital role, Under the Jeweled Sky, was an unexpected, but treasured gem.
Profile Image for Blodeuedd Finland.
3,405 reviews292 followers
January 26, 2014
This book takes place in 1947 and 1957. Sophie first comes with her mother and father to India as her father becomes a doctor for a maharajah. It's a small world, her mother suffocates her and she finds a friend and her life is changed. India becomes a country and fast forward to 1957. This time Sophie comes to India with her new husband, it's a different country from what she remembers. Still again she feels suffocated.

What to say about this book, what will I remember from it. Well, it made me cry. I can't even remember when a book last made me cry, maybe it happens once a year. It's a good thing, this book truly made me feel. It's a bad thing, omg it made me cry, it was sad! Why!? It broke my heart.

But before that happened a lot of other things happened. Sophie was kind of quiet, first she followed her parents and then her husband. First in the end she followed herself. This was her journey and I am glad she found courage in the end. True courage.

Some things happen that I wont get into too, spoilers. But now (-57) and then (-47) comes together.

Just as it is Sophie's story it is also a story about India. We see how India is formed, and broken apart. Hindu and Muslim countries, there is kidnappings, rape, murder, families torn apart. It was not a pretty break.

An interesting story.
Profile Image for Thien-Kim.
Author 4 books316 followers
February 6, 2014
I love reading novels set in India, especially when it’s filled with rich imagery and a nod to India’s history and culture. Each time I opened up the pages of the beautifully written novel Under the Jeweled Sky by Alison McQueen, I was transported to India during the turbulent 1940s and 1950s.

Sophie has finally returned to India after her marriage to Lucien, an officer in the British Foreign Office. Ten years ago, she lived in a maharajah’s palace when her father was employed as the palace doctor. Sophie has worked hard to push the past behind after moving back to London, but her memories and heartache rush back when she returns as the new Sophie. The current Sophie feels just as lost as the younger version, but the older, wiser Sophie has learned to take control of her life.

Read the rest of the review here:

Profile Image for Lori.
254 reviews
August 13, 2016
Beautiful cover on this book!!! I liked the way the story shifted between the present and the past. The author did a good job of creating characters that you liked and others you loathed. The book begins well. The first chapter is intriguing. You want to read more to find out why the mother is so hateful. Much of the middle of the book is just okay....I kept reading because I just kept thinking the next chapter was going to be more interesting. It isn't until the last 80 pages, or so, the story finally becomes the page turner you were expecting.

Profile Image for Arlene.
581 reviews7 followers
December 1, 2016
One of the best books I've read this year, an extended read for my Goodreads Reading Challenge. A bit of Indian history but so well-written in between a forbidden romance between two teenagers, one a British subject and an Indian guy.
Profile Image for Stephanie.
269 reviews6 followers
July 9, 2017
Sophie Schofield accepts a wedding proposal from Lucien Grainger, an ambitious British diplomat. It is 1957. When he accepts a posting to New Delhi, into the glittering circle of ex-pat high society, old wounds begin to break open as Sophie is confronted with the memory of her first forbidden love and its devastating consequences.

But this is not the India she fell in love with 10 years before when her father George was a physician to the maharaja. This was the India of tigers and scorpions and palaces seemingly afloat on shimmering lakes. The India that ripped out her heart as Partition tore the country in two, separating her from her one true love.

This is a tender story of love, loss of innocence, and the aftermath of a terrible decision no-one knew how to avoid. It shows how ignorance and bigotry can have devastating effects on so many.
298 reviews3 followers
July 9, 2020
3.5 stars. I enjoyed this tale of star-crossed lovers set in 1940s and 50s England and India (including the partition era). For me, there were beautiful and absorbing passages alternating with such ambiguous flights of poetic imagery that I had a hard time sticking with it for the first half. The last third got a lot better for me. I feel like I was more engaged and there were actual events happening to actual people. I get that Sophie and Jag are young and in love, but I kept getting frustrated with a whole page of feeling like all sorts of natural phenomena. I also thought Sophie's mother was so type-cast as the villain with no depth that it was distracting. That said, I enjoyed the book overall and found the peek into partition-era India interesting, particularly when combined with the notes about the author's inspiration from family experiences.
Profile Image for Sylvia Snowe.
251 reviews
February 13, 2020
Abandoned after twenty pages. Amateurish writing. The author tells you the story, rather than using dialogue and description of inner and outer perceptions of the main characters. Point of view switches between several different characters, so there is no single focus for narration. The descriptions of the palace and the Indian inhabitants were beautiful, but the actual characters were shallow and uninteresting. The sweet daughter with the cold, distant, emotionally distant mother was hard to believe. When you grow up with abuse, you carry it with you, it becomes part of you. The story was seemed contrived, with the real goal to simply describe India immediately after WWII, just prior to Independence.
Profile Image for Erin Poll - Tanis.
422 reviews1 follower
May 2, 2019
This book was beautifully written. It told a good story and held my attention throughout. It took me a long time to get through it, not because I didn’t enjoy it, it is just quite long and I found myself without a lot of reading time recently. I was hoping it would explain more about the conditions in India during partition- it did touch in it a bit, more so at the end- I would have been interested to hear more about it as it was leading up to the decision, etc. Not sure how accurate the novels details were, but the glimpse into the Maharjas palace and life was fascinating.
Profile Image for Kat Ashworth.
214 reviews
January 25, 2018
Stunning, captivating and touching. The words come together to create a highly visual journey. Thought provoking insight into a historic time and place. McQueen’s ability to conjure empathy hit its height in the final chapters, tying together a joyful and fulfilling ending to a complex tapestry of truth and fiction.
Profile Image for Beth.
96 reviews2 followers
December 31, 2017
This was beautifully written and provided a snapshot of history during a tumultuous time. It evoked a variety of emotions in me as I read it; the endurance of love, frustration at the constraints of society, hope for the future, disappointment in parents, and the sadness of loss.
92 reviews12 followers
August 30, 2022
I am usually skeptical about books set in the sub-continent, written by umm, those not from there. But I found this to be an okay read. The love story is nice, but it would have been better if the book was a bit shorter.
Profile Image for Melanie.
232 reviews4 followers
November 6, 2017
4.5 stars.
Such a beautiful book! And I cried my little eyes out in parts...
5 reviews
October 18, 2019
Good story. But would have been better if it had about 100 pages less. It didn't get really good until there was 50 pages left.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 117 reviews

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