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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book - highly recommended
I could hardly put this book down, as it was so intriguing. It's a sad tale, and paints a portrait of how life was in India before and during its independence and partition.
Particularly, it is the tale of the two girls who were born to an Indian mother and English father in the 1920's. It tells of the problems and the apparent impossibility of them and their...
Published on 8 Feb 2012 by GM Harlow

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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Didn't live up to its potential
The first few chapters of this novel set in Assam, India in the l920s are really compelling. They tell the story of concubine , Chinthimani and English tea planter James . Running alongside this is the story of Shurika who becomes the loyal maid servant of Chinthimani. Thinking I had found one of those memorable novels of India similar to those written by M. M. Kaye...
Published on 3 Feb 2012 by Mondoro


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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book - highly recommended, 8 Feb 2012
By 
GM Harlow (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Secret Children (Hardcover)
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I could hardly put this book down, as it was so intriguing. It's a sad tale, and paints a portrait of how life was in India before and during its independence and partition.
Particularly, it is the tale of the two girls who were born to an Indian mother and English father in the 1920's. It tells of the problems and the apparent impossibility of them and their parents becoming a family. I would like to think that things are very much different now, although in this case the differences in background and life experience between the man and woman were so vast that they would have no meeting ground except the obvious. The man behaved in a very unfair and unthinking way. When the children were born, he realised his folly, but of course, it was too late. He regretted it for the rest of his life.
The story begins with the daughter of one of the girls at her mother's funeral in England, with her aunt, who is the sister of the deceased. The aunt tells the story for the first time, having promised her sister she never would tell anyone, as long as they both should live.
I cannot really say much more without giving away too much of the content. I think this is really a worthwhile and absorbing book, and appears to reveal a deep understanding of how things were and are. I have never been to India so it is hard for me to know how true it all is, but I feel that it is so, as I have heard tales of India from people who have lived there in the past.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two sisters born into a world where no one would except them.., 19 Feb 2012
By 
Petra "I love to read" "book addict!!!" (Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Secret Children (Hardcover)
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The Secret Sisters by Alison McQueen is a book which I highly recommend to all readers of fiction though this book was based on the authors own family history. James McDonald the sister's father ran a tea plantation but he lived a lonely life so he bought a young beautiful girl as a concubine not realising what he was starting when he did this. He thought he was doing no harm by doing this, he actually thought he was saving this girl from a life of poverty. This started a wonderful story which the author showed the reader not only the beauty of the country but also the beauty of the people who inhabited this land which held so many different customs and beliefs which the author showed the reader so well.
Alison McQueen is an author who clearly loves India and its people and this was clear to the reader through her story telling. She painted a vivid picture using her words and I loved every page which I read. The story she told was a heart wrenching one and she told it sympathetically not only towards the sisters Serafina and Mary but also their mother and the servants that served them daily. I loved the way the author opened up the customs of India and through her words I got a clearer understanding to the ways of the people especially towards their beliefs and fears of the unknown.
With each turn of the page I just wanted happiness for the girls but they spent their lives being controlled by those around them. They accepted each stage of their lives without complaint and did what was asked of them without questioning why they were sent with each new stage of their lives. This was a wonderful book which told a story which was unlike any book I have ever read, the author showed the suffering of the people of India around the time of the Second World War and around Ghandi's time and I am sorry to say I knew nothing of this before I read this book. But she also showed a world which the girls no matter how they tried could not fit into and it was hard to understand why these beautiful girls were judged not only by the colour of their skin but the depths of that darkness. I got so much out of reading this book not only the pleasure of reading a good book but I got an understanding of a country which I always admired but unfortunately I knew nothing about.
The Secret Sisters by Alison McQueen is a book which I highly recommend to all readers not only of fiction but those that want to know more about India as a country.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, touching and heartbreaking, 30 Jan 2012
This review is from: The Secret Children (Hardcover)
I just finished this book after receiving it a few days ago and am utterly blown away. The novel is gripping, emotional and beautifully written. I found myself weeping on more than one occasion at this truly touching story. I was dubious at first, wondering how easy the story would be able to get into with it being set in 1920's India but after the first few chapters I was hooked. The characters' journeys are beautifully intertwined and I felt a deep connection to them by the end of the story. Mary and Serafina's journey is a complex and heartbreaking one and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. A highly recommended read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great Reading., 29 Jun 2014
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This book gave a brilliant insight to long ago times and the living conditions suffered by so many native folk.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Secret Children, 26 April 2014
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I loved this book. I learned about the terrible consequences of the prejudices of that time. This book was fascinating, I could not put it down. I learned so much. Extremely well researched and written with great empathy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read, 26 Mar 2014
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I enjoyed reading this book very much. Having lived on a tea estate in Assam and heard stories of planters in the past having secret liaisons with local Indian women it was interesting to hear a personal story.
However I am intrigued as to where these two girls were actually born since the Doon Valley is NOT in Assam as the book suggests but in the foothills of the Himalayas west of Nepal and many many miles west of Assam. Assam is north east of Bangladesh and there the tea is grown mostly on the plains (at sea level) and not in the hills contrary to popular belief. Haflong is in Assam however and the journey from the Haflong to the Doon Valley to for the school holidays would have been very long!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A thoroughly enjoyable read, 19 Feb 2014
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Well written, the descriptions of life in colonial India for children born into a mixed race family are enthralling. Attitudes of the British ruling class to indigenous people of the continent were disgraceful and yet were universally accepted at the time.
One couldn't help but feel for the plight of the children and the sad demise of the mother who fades into obscurity as the story unfolds.
I admired the tenacity of each of the sisters who dealt with their lot in life in different ways as befits differing characters.
This is an amazing book more so because it is mostly a true story. I loved all the characters, flaws and all. They are humans with hopes and dreams just like we all do
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great read before my planned visit to India, 19 Aug 2013
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This review is from: The Secret Children (Paperback)
This book is a very interesting view of life for children from mixed race parents in India. It was also a very good read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written, 7 Aug 2013
This book was recommended by a friend with whom I had been to India and Bangladesh. She knew I would love it and she was right. It's not a book to rush but one to give time to so as to understand better all the complex relationships. Well worth reading and beautifully written.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling story and well written, 9 July 2013
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Really enjoyed this (having known very little about the background to the book - which is based on a true story)

Moving, well written and definitely worth reading.
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The Secret Children
The Secret Children by Alison McQueen (Hardcover - 19 Jan 2012)
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