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Tuesday, 18 October 2016

'Good Hope Road' by Sarita Mandanna

Published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson,
9 June 2016.
ISBN 978-1-780-22905-8

The book is a fascinating investigation of war's effects on the participants and their families in the years after war ends.  The characters hold the interest of the reader through their WW1 experiences in France to their lives and the lives of those around them after the war in 1930s America.  The story is not a mystery but a good historical novel.

This story begins in Vermont in 1932 when Jim Stonebridge is interrupted in his fishing by a noisy aeroplane above him in which a red headed woman holds a mass of balloons.  The woman us Madeleine Scott and her arrival in the small town marks a change in Jim's life.  He lives with his father, a WW1 veteran, on their apple growing estate with little contact outside.  Madeleine's bohemian style excites Jim and his father into a more cheerful life.

The story progresses in alternate sections showing life in 1930s America and the World War One  experiences of Major Stonebridge and his French Foreign Legion companions.  This is a powerful tale showing the emotional destruction of war for the survivors but also showing the possibilities of redemption after war.  The narrators of the alternate sections are Obadiah Nelson, a Creole who has also joined the French Foreign Legion, and Jim.  The figure of the Major looms over both narratives.  The Major and Jim travel to Washington to join the Bonus Army and to witness the growth and fall of a Hooverville - this is powerfully portrayed.

As December 1941 gets nearer the crux of the WW1 characters experiences is revealed.  This is a well researched tale for both eras.
Reviewer: Jennifer S. Palmer
Sarita's previous novel Tiger Hills was set in India.

Sarita Mandanna belongs to the stunning landscapes of Coorg, the setting of Tiger Hills, her debut novel. Her family history extends for centuries through these hills, famous for their coffee plantations and often described as the 'Scotland of India'. She has a PGDM from the Indian Institute of Management, an MBA from the Wharton Business School, and was most recently a private equity investor in New York before moving to join her husband in Toronto in 2010. Tiger Hills is being translated into 14 languages around the world, including French, Italian, Spanish, Catalan, Hebrew, Hungarian, Dutch, Russian, Slovenian and Greater Chinese. It has also been longlisted for the 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize.

Jennifer Palmer Throughout my reading life crime fiction has been a constant interest; I really enjoyed my 15 years as an expatriate in the Far East, the Netherlands & the USA but occasionally the solace of closing my door to the outside world and sitting reading was highly therapeutic. I now lecture to adults on historical topics including Famous Historical Mysteries.

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