1930, Rajputana, India. Since her husband’s death, 28-year-old photojournalist Eliza’s only companion has been her camera. When the British Government send her to an Indian princely state to photograph the royal family, she’s determined to make a name for herself. But when Eliza arrives at the palace she meets Jay, the Prince’s handsome, brooding brother. While Eliza awakens Jay to the poverty of his people, he awakens her to the injustices of British rule. Soon Jay and Eliza find they have more in common than they think. But their families – and society – think otherwise. Eventually they will have to make a choice between doing what’s expected, or following their hearts. . .
After all the murders and creepy plots, I knew I wanted to read something much different. I needed a book that allowed me to travel around the world in my mind and I knew Dinah Jefferies would be perfect for that. I had always wanted to read her books but I didn’t know where to start.
Before The Rains (don’t you love the beautiful title?) was a captivating and colorful historical novel set in India. Eliza, a young widowed woman, is sent to Rajputana’s castle to photograph the royal family during the course of a year. There, she falls in love with Jayant and discovers many secrets about her childhood and her family that she never knew about…
While this wasn’t my favorite historical read, I found the descriptions and the setting to be wonderful. Dinah Jefferies is a lovely writer and makes you feel like you’re actually living the adventures along with the characters of her books, which is something I really appreciate. The beginning part was my favorite, where we get a glimpse of Eliza’s childhood memories and her first days living in the castle. The ending was too neat in my opinion, but satisfying nonetheless.
The plot was appealing enough and I quickly found myself engaged, I just wish there had been more family secrets and politics and less romance between those two. It’s not that I disliked Jay or Eliza (in fact, Eliza was a pretty amazing main character: strong, considerate and smart), but I didn’t connect with their relationship as much as I would’ve liked. Other characters like the queen and the young miniaturist came across as fascinating and I wanted to know more about them.
In the end, Before The Rains was an evocative and beautifully written book that perhaps felt a bit too long for me. Don’t get me wrong, I highly recommend it if you’re into historical fiction set in exotic locations, but I wish I could’ve loved the plot a bit more. Maybe the next one? I’m definitely in.
Netgalley – Viking, 2017