Top positive review
8 people found this helpful
Well-written complex story
on 1 January 2014
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.