June 16th, 2014

When I discover a good book, I like nothing better than to hand it on. Although in this case, it’s disingenuous to say I discovered it, when, in fact, it was handed to me. So consider it a reading chain. The book in question? Shona Patel’s Teatime for the Firefly.

Here’s the official blurb:

teatime for the fireflyLayla Roy has defied the fates.

Despite being born under an inauspicious horoscope, she is raised to be educated and independent by her eccentric grandfather, Dadamoshai. And, by cleverly manipulating the hand fortune has dealt her, she has even found love with Manik Deb—a man betrothed to another. All were minor miracles in India that spring of 1943, when young women’s lives were predetermined—if not by the stars, then by centuries of family tradition and social order.

Layla’s life as a newly married woman takes her away from home and into the jungles of Assam, where the world’s finest tea thrives on plantations run by native labor and British efficiency. Fascinated by this culture of whiskey-soaked expats who seem fazed by neither earthquakes nor man-eating leopards, she struggles to find her place among the prickly English wives with whom she is expected to socialize, and the peculiar servants she now finds under her charge.

But navigating the tea-garden set will hardly be her biggest challenge. Layla’s remote home is not safe from the powerful changes sweeping India on the heels of the Second World War. Their colonial society is at a tipping point, and Layla and Manik find themselves caught in a perilous racial divide that threatens their very lives.

Little known fact: the book after The Ashford Affair was originally going to be set in 1940s India (that’s what it still says in my contract for that book!)– but then I had an idea about a Victorian matron, a Preraphaelite artist, and a lost painting, and That Summer was born.

Reading Teatime for the Firefly makes me rather glad I held off on the 1940s India book since the wealth of detail, the vivid construction of place, make clear to me just how much I have to learn.

So, for a signed copy of Teatime for the Firefly, here’s your question:

— What’s your favorite India-set novel?

Winner to be announced on Wednesday!

59 Responses to “Monday Give Away: TEATIME FOR THE FIREFLY”

  1. Amy says:

    “The Betrayal of the Blood Lily”, of course! However, in all honesty, I do believe that is the only book I’ve read that’s been set in India.

  2. Celia says:

    There are so many books set in India to choose from! Obviously I enjoyed your The Betrayal of the Blood Lily, and I read Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie not too long ago and really liked it.

    My favorite are the books that someone presses into your hands while saying, “You *must* read this.”

  3. jeffrey says:

    Why, The Betrayal of the Blood Lily, of course. I knew so little about colonial India that the book was a revelation to me. And, I loved the character of Miss Penelope who was both tough and tender in one seductive package!

  4. Céline says:

    Well…. The Betrayal of the Blood Lily, obviously!!!! I fell in love with Penelope and Alex in this books and it ranks among my favourite Pink books… :)

  5. Joanne M. says:

    As everyone mentioned, The Betrayal of the Blood Lily was so good, and I happen to love books set in India. Zemindar by Valerie Fitzgerald is wonderful, as well as M. M. Kaye’s Shadow of the Moon and Rebecca Ryman’s Olivia and Jai.

  6. Liz says:

    I really enjoyed East of the Sun by Julia Gregson…traces the journey of three young Englishwomen–2 friends and their chaperone–as they travel to India in the waning days of colonial imperialism and make a life for themselves. Loved the romances each of them experience and how they have to grow up and become their own women.

  7. Katelyn says:

    You really can’t go wrong with M.M.Kaye, but how to choose between Shadow of the Moon and The Far Pavillions? It simply can’t be done; they’re both just amazing.

  8. Susan G says:

    Betrayal of the Blood Lily is one of my favorites.
    Will add East of the Sun to my list.

  9. Catie says:

    I recently read “The Namesake” for a library town-wide reading event. Makes me interested in reading more about this fascinating culture!

  10. Kayse says:

    I just read Lucinda Riley’s “the Midnight Rose,” part of which is set in colonial India. It was very good!

  11. Brenda says:

    I can’t really decide between Shadow of the Moon and Blood Lily, but that might have something to due with the fact that I associate them together in the same way that I associate Rebecca with Jane Eyre; they have similar elements, atmospheres, and evoke the same emotions but they are both just so awesome in their own ways.

  12. MJ says:

    I don’t think I have read one but it sounds like I need to read both Betrayal of the Blood Lily and East of the Sun.

  13. Daniele Krug says:

    The Last Kashmiri Rose. Obviously, I need to hurry up and read Blood Lily.

  14. julieojewel says:

    Ooh, I’ll have to add M.M.Kaye to the list, I really did enjoy how you explored India in BBL and it’s been awhile, but I did enjoy the way E.M. Forster wrote as well. I’ll admit I saw the movies first, but my college reading was devoted to more dense history than english lit.

  15. Ashley says:

    My favorite is “The Far Pavilions,” although “Shadow of the Moon” was great too. M.M. Kaye kicked off a fascination with India for me – a friend on GoodReads noticed and recommended “The Palace of Illusions” by Chitra Divakaruni. It was awesome too.

    Doesn’t Michelle Moran have a book set in India coming out this year?

    “Teatime for the Firefly” is one I’ve wanted to read for a while now. I’m glad it’s good!

  16. Meredith A says:

    Currently reading MM Kaye’s Trade Winds (very good), but my favourite India-set book is, of course, Betrayal of the Blood Lily.

  17. Diane says:

    The Far Pavilions and Shadow of the Moon by MM Kaye. These book sparked a interest in India years ago. I am looking into tours of India. Hope to feel the magic of India soon!

  18. Mary D. says:

    I’m going to have to read The Betrayal of the Blood Lily! Stephanie Laurens’ Black Cobra quartet all start off in India, and then the four officers make their way back to England.

  19. Pam says:

    I loved Blood Lily and also really, really enjoyed Deanna Raybourn’s Dark Road to Darjeeling. For something completely different, The White Tiger (Aravind Adiga) is set in modern India and won the Booker Prize a few years ago–I liked that one quite a bit. I loved the Jewel in the Crown miniseries and want to read the Raj Quartet someday, and I’m ashamed to say I’ve not yet read any M.M. Kaye…

  20. Barbara Hansen says:

    M. M. Kaye’s “Shadow of the Moon” and your “The Betrayal of the Blood Lily”. I had surgery on my right hand last week, need reading material since “That Summer” only lasted a day!

  21. Christine says:

    I can’t think of any I’ve read other than Blood Lily, but I did recently watch The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and that was a lot of fun.

  22. Ella says:

    The only one I’ve read is Blood Lily, which was wonderful. Had never thought to read an India set novel before.
    This book is on my to read list now.

  23. Barbara Jones says:

    Any of the M M Kaye books set in India. The Far Pavilions, Death in Kashmir, Death in the Andamans….all wonderful!

  24. Rachel Adrianna says:

    I feel like I should have a handful of titles to recommend here, but Blood Lily is the only one that I can think of. But I also LOVE the Richard Sharpe books and film adaptations, some of which are set in India.

  25. Bridget says:

    East of the Sun by Julia Grigson

  26. jessica nelson says:

    Blood Lily is my favorite.

  27. Whitney Jennings says:

    I recently was asked to read Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse for a class and found it to be a wonderful story. However, prior to it I had only read Betrayal. The author was at the book signing/discussion in Scottsdale and it is always interesting to have multiple authors together to hear their thoughts and experiences with writing.

  28. Mary Lou says:

    Kim, of course. And as a follow-up of sorts, Laurie King’s The Game-a great story of the 1920’s Indian Raj. With spys.

  29. Chartreuse says:

    “Flashman in the Great Game” by George MacDonald Fraser 😉

  30. LynnS says:

    The second book of Sarah A. Hoyt’s Magical British Empire Trilogy, Soul of Fire, is set in India. It’s a great series.

  31. Ashley says:

    It’s a tie between The Betrayal of the Blood Lily and Deanna Raybourn’s Dark Road to Darjeeling

  32. Bekah says:

    Blood Lily of course! I also enjoyed Dark Road to Darjeeling. I haven’t read many novels set in India but this book looks very interesting.

  33. Connie Starkey says:

    “Teatime for the Firefly” has been on my TBR list for quite some time and would be a joy to win! Ahhhh, M.M. Kaye first piqued my interest in India with my reading of “The Far Pavilions” ages ago. Some very good recommendations on these comments…of course I’ve read everything written by Lauren and Deanna Raybourn and recommend those myself.

  34. Shona Patel says:

    I am so excited my book is the featured Give Away. Whoever gets it I hope you enjoy it. Thank you for your kinds words, Lauren. Reposting this on my FB page. Cheers!

    • Lauren says:

      Shona, it was lovely to meet you, and I so enjoyed the book! I’m only sorry we didn’t have a chance to chat more.

  35. bn100 says:

    don’t think I’ve read any yet

  36. Tiffany says:

    Zemindar! I adore this book, and it makes me so sad that this extremely talented author only wrote this book, and no others.
    Thank you for the giveaway!

  37. Jane B says:

    Aside from Betrayal of the Blood Lily? M.M. Kaye’s Shadow of the Moon, I think.

  38. Michelle says:

    I really love Deanna Raybourn’s Dark Road to Darjeeling

  39. Andrea Luciano says:

    As much as I enjoyed Blood Lily and The Far Pavilions, my favorite is the 4 books that make up The Raj Quartet by Paul Scott — The Jewel in the Crown; The Day of the Scorpion; The Tower of Silence; and The Division of the Spoils. These books were the basis of the PBS series “The Jewel in the Crown”,which is one of my favorites.

  40. Alice says:

    Dark Road to Darjeeling by Deanna Raybourn, Zemindar by Valerie Fitzgerald and Sister of My Heart by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.

  41. Jane says:

    Mostly have read nonfiction about India which is a huge departure for me as I normally only read fiction. Books about Gandhi, partition and life of Mother Teresa. Just returned from a 3 week trip in India. Did enjoy Blood Lily as I have all Pink books.

  42. Alexa J says:

    Blood Lily– my favorite of all of the Pink Carnation books!

  43. Betty S. says:

    Have read several of the books mentioned here – of course Betrayal of the Blood Lily and Dark Road to Darjeeling, which I really loved and is so descriptive of India.

    I second Palace of Illusions, which was so intriguing to me.

    Amulya Malladi has two interesting books: Mango Season set in fairly modern day India in which an Indian expat in US returns to India and gets involved in family issues – good insight to life in India and very funny; second is Song of the Cuckoo Bird, entirely different, set in an ashram on the Bay of Bengal.

  44. Tara Jae says:

    The Jungle Book! I read it in college and was horrified at the savage turns conveniently left out of the Disney movie.
    Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies would be next but it’s a short story collection, not a novel.

  45. Marissa says:

    Rather like everyone else, I have read Betrayal of the Blood Lily! :)

    But that’s actually about it. I will have to read all of these books everyone else is talking about in August when I have a 3 week break from school!

  46. Joy Elkins says:

    Betrayal of the Blood Lily is my all-time favorite!!

  47. Suzanne says:

    I agree with everybody else in that M.M. Kaye is my favourite. I think that Shadow Of The Moon is one of the most brilliant books I have ever read. I also read Death In Kashmir and Death In The Andamans over and over again. I also love Jon Cleary’s The Faraway Drums and Emma Drummond’s Beyond All Horizons, and the 1st 4 Joe Sandilands mysteries which were set in India in the 1920s.

  48. Pat says:

    Flashman and the Great Game was good. So are the first two or three Joe Sandilands books that are set in India, the Kashmiri Rose being the first one.

  49. Sheila says:

    Other than Blood Lily? The Far Pavilions, Flashman and the great Game, Zemindar, and I am racking my brain to recall the name of a very long, very good one about the Great Mutiny, an incredibly sad chapter in history that seems forgotten

  50. Dianne says:

    Every once in a while I re-read MM Kaye’s The Shadow of the Moon and since that got me in the mood, I re-read Blood Lily. Oh, and then there is The Far Pavilions…….

  51. Alyssa says:

    Well… like everyone else I do love “The Betrayal of the Blood Lily”. I also loved “Lucky T” by Kate Brian when I was in high school.

  52. Erin G says:

    I did enjoy “The Betrayal of the Blood Lily” like everyone else but I very much enjoyed the Dark Road to Darjeeling by Deanna Raybourn.

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