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Sikkam 1880s

©1996-2013
womeninworldhistory.com

Dark Road to Darjeeling

by Deanna Raybourn

In this fourth book in the Lady Julia Grey and Nicholas Brisbane series, the newly married couple have been commandeered by Julia’s sister, Portia, to accompany her to an isolated valley in set in the foothills of the Kangchenjunga range of the Himalayas. Portia has had word that the husband of her ex-lover, Jane, has been murdered. Jane is expecting a baby, and she and the child, possible heir to the deceased husband’s family’s large property, might be in danger.

In this story we enter the world of eccentric members of the British Raj. Tea planters, doctors, missionaries, and even a reclusive monk all live in the dramatically beautiful valley they’ve named “The Garden of Eden.” Julia and Nicholas soon find, however, that the valley is hardly Eden. Secrets and dark deeds lurk among the members of this tight knit community. There is even a man eating tiger to contend with.

Raybourn gives us information about the running of an extensive tea plantation as well as glimpses of the culture of the local population. The ethnic and racial mix of peoples range from Bengali Indian to Tibetan and Nepalese, all with diverse religions, caste structures, native beliefs and special diets. The Hindus in the lowest caste stand at a great distance from the British educated half-caste “upper” servant governess who is allowed to join the family in social situations. Rigid social divisions among the British are in place as well, with deference given to Julia as a lady, while her lesser born but fascinating government secret agent husband has had to earn his merits via his own accomplishments.

Book Club Questions are included as is an interesting conversation with the author about the origins of her Lady Julia Grey series.

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