The Sandalwood Tree

by Elle Newmark (Random House) R195 ISBN 978038561426


This historical novel takes you back in time to two important years in India. Two British expats, Evie and Martin Mitchell, arrive with their son in Masoorla in 1947. Their marriage is strained because of Martin’s suppressed wartime memories and her struggle to make a new life in an unknown country, at the end of British rule and Partition.


Evie finds some letters from the 19th century and is lured by this tale from the past. She decides to discover the country by befriending the people and tries to reconnect with Martin.


The second story weaves through the first. I found myself drawn into the love story of the Victorian era. It takes place in 1857, during the first war of Independence. Two friends Adela and Felicity share a secret that has implications for the future.


The setting is well described and Newmark succeeds in illustrating the importance of betrayal and forgiveness, but the story was somewhat predictable. It reminded me of a Passage to India, by E.M. Forster.


This is Newmark’s second novel. The Chef’s Apprentice was her first. If you are looking for a light read and want to better understand the history of India, this is for you.


Pauline Vijverberg


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