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The Kashmir Shawl Paperback – 1 Mar 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (1 Mar 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007285973
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007285976
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (696 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,800 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


‘A superbly researched and vivid evocation of wartime Kashmir and Ladakh’ Daily Mail

‘A spellbinding tale. Beautifully written, honest and compassionate…a delight from start to finish’
Daily Express

‘An epic tale…A complicated entanglement of family secrets, love during wartime and dangerous liaisons. For fans of Maggie O’Farrell’

‘A superbly written novel, marvellously descriptive and especially evocative of the war years . . . a gorgeous treat’ Choice

‘Thomas’ portrayal of a young wife struggling to cope with life in wartime Kashmir, her husband’s indifference to her and her attraction to a charismatic mountaineer is beautifully written, touching and believable’ The Daily Express

About the Author

Rosie Thomas is the author of a number of celebrated novels, including the bestsellers Iris and Ruby, Constance and Lovers and Newcomers. A keen traveller, she has climbed in the Alps and the Himalayas, competed in the Peking to Paris car rally and travelled the Silk Road through Asia. More recently, she has spent time in Kashmir and Ladakh, researching this novel. She lives in London.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

301 of 307 people found the following review helpful By Ismay1012 TOP 500 REVIEWER on 14 Aug 2011
Format: Paperback
Fans of Rosie Thomas will love this well researched novel, with its vibrant tastes of a bygone life in India, it's breathtaking descriptions evoking rich visual images of life in the heights of Kashmir, a rich valley spreading ahead, and the comparisons of parallel lives both in the Welsh mountains and the highlands of Switzerland. Yet within this background unfolds the story of a quest to discover the truth about the life of Mair's grandmother, the wife of a Welsh missionary, who 70 years previously had been called to a frugal life helping the poor in these northern regions of India, and in particular her quest to discover the story of the valuable, priceless Kashmir Shawl.

The two stories are intertwined throughout the book - the story of Mair's grandmother Nerys and of Mair's quest- her research through personal letters, use of technology and finally by following in her mother's footsteps and meeting locals in Kashmir who may be able to assist her. Slowly the pieces link together, times gone by when, during the war years a baby is born as the result of an adulterous affair, lives are tragically lost. Mair travels through three countries in two continents before she has unravelled her grandmother's story and can travel back to India to disclose what she has discovered and complete the circle.

This story is meticulous in its historical and geographical research and also reveals a tender story of first love, loyalty, bravery, treachery, determination and hope. It's a real page-turner.
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123 of 126 people found the following review helpful By elsie purdon TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 11 Oct 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I really enjoyed this book . Its one of those book's you can relax and sink into, curled up in an armchair or indeed anywhere.
Most of the story takes place in Kashmir . This part of the world has the Himalayas as the most stunning backdrop and is where both timelines in the novel unfold as we discover the reason why Mair's grandmother had the most beautiful and valuable shawl hidden away and no-one in the family knew anything about it.
Back in 1941 we meet Nerys (grandma) as she and her husband Evan run a mission and school in remote parts of northern India and bordering Tibet. Nery's life is about to change and she is the core of the book.

I found myself totally lost in their world and always felt jolted when the story moved to current times. I prefer the older time line, it was a romantic, fascinating time and I loved the little details of Srinagar life. More so the village of Kanihama where the shawl was made. the lives of those villagers became very real to me, we are also reading the beginnings of the troubles that are of course still going on. So its not all romantic, there is a good piece of real life too.
I really think that Rosie Thomas has done great research and created a world I could really believe in. Also I liked reading the three friends pulling together and showing the positive side of female friendship, in a time when women were seen as decorative but actually were as strong as steel.
The modern day timeline has its own dramas and is also interesting though my heart is till in the 1940"s.
A great read.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By OliveOil on 9 Sep 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of the most engaging books l have read. It covers 2 different family members, one a welsh newlywed from before the war situated in India and one from today,The story situated in India is descriptive and emotionally charged with dangerous friendships and innocence. Today story with the granddaughter gets you totally involved as she tries to unravel the story of a hidden shawl discovered after her grandmothers death. If you love a good story, a mixture of love intrigue and friendship can all be found in this novel, this one is an absolute must.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Discerning Reader on 1 Jan 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an interesting story woven round a Kashmir shawl. There are in fact two stories, one in the present related to Mair Ellis wanting to find out about one aspect of the family's history, and the other that story that happened in the past, focusing on her grandmother Nerys Watkins.

Trying to run two parallel stories like this can be confusing for the reader but Rosie Thomas manages to keep the two stories running without too much confusion for the reader. Initially one has to try and remember which story it is but after some time, when chapters switch to the other story, the reader can follow that without any problem. The way the book I written, the emphasis falls back at the end to the present story, rounding off the past and the present stories.

The book Is not always compelling, but there is enough interest for the reader to want to carry on reading. Some books can be interesting just for the story, but Kashmir Shawl is also interesting because of the historical and geographical contexts. The descriptions of the places, and the people are clear and although it is not historical fiction, light is thrown on many aspects, such as the fate of Kashmir during and after British rule, and the role of missionaries in South East Asia. One gets vivid descriptions such as of life on a Kashmir houseboat, the life in a mission in a remote village, nature of communication between the isolated villages and the rest of the world, and nature of family and community life in different parts.

There is always an element of disbelief but a romantic novel can include that if all the different threads are to be drawn together at the end. Someone, however, should have included a map so that the contexts of the different places mentioned would have been clear.
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