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Book Review | Before the Rains by Dinah Jefferies

Dinah Jefferies always gives such a sense of place in her historical fiction.  I’ve loved all Dinah Jefferies books and Before the Rains is consistent in how the stories have impacted on me.  I don’t usually comment on covers but I do love the theme of all the covers!

I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts on Before the Rains.

Format: Kindle Edition

File Size: 2050 KB

Print Length: 400 pages

Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0241287081

Publisher: Penguin (23 Feb. 2017)

Language: English


1930, Rajputana, India. Since her husband’s death, 28-year-old photojournalist Eliza’s only companion has been her camera. When the British Government send her to an Indian princely state to photograph the royal family, she’s determined to make a name for herself.

But when Eliza arrives at the palace she meets Jay, the Prince’s handsome, brooding brother. While Eliza awakens Jay to the poverty of his people, he awakens her to the injustices of British rule. Soon Jay and Eliza find they have more in common than they think. But their families – and society – think otherwise. Eventually they will have to make a choice between doing what’s expected, or following their hearts. . .

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Book Review

The prologue in Delhi (1912) of the procession for the Viceroy Lord Hardinge’s entry into the old walled city hooked me in straight away … all my senses awake and my emotions heightened from the trauma I was ready to experience India and find out where Eliza’s future lay.

Now 28 and not feeling like she’s ever belonged anywhere, it’s no different when she enters the castle for her year commission to photograph the Royals and life in Juraipore.  Having been told by the British they had to give Eliza access to the castle and an escort to other locations, she’s not exactly welcomed!  Conflict and intrigue arise often adding suspense to this historical love story.  Dealing with laws, politics, religious beliefs, rituals and customs that are alien to the British, there is so much Eliza must overcome to get her happy ever after.

To my mind it wasn’t just Chatur who was the enemy, there’s another character who is manipulative and very much ‘self.’  I really didn’t like him and felt despair at one point.  He doesn’t have any redeeming characteristics (although you might think differently!).  

There are others in the castle who want Eliza out of the way so you never quite know who is doing what.

The settings in Before the Rains are just magical, not only the exuberance of the festivals but also the mud huts in the villages and Eliza’s time back in Gloucester.  

Dinah Jefferies is so skillful in bringing everything to life, I was transported to another time, to another culture.  

There is one horrendous scene that the author doesn’t hold back from and I could feel the trauma Eliza did.  Maybe not so magical but you need to be exposed to a culture with it’s shadow side too don’t you!

The romance is soul to soul.  Beautiful, poignant and takes your breath away.  And despite being in the 1930’s, is a trend that is very current today.

The ending is perfect.  Just perfect.

Dinah Jefferies has penned another story in Before the Rains that I will be thinking of for a long time to come.

It’s a Keeper.

Dinah Jefferies was born in Malaysia and moved to England at the age of nine.

As a teenager she missed the heat of Malaysia, which left her with a kind of restlessness that led to quite an unusual life. She went to live in Tuscany where she worked as an au-pair for an Italian countess, and there was even a time when Dinah lived with a rock band in a ‘hippie’ commune in Suffolk.

In 1985, the death of her fourteen year old son changed everything and she now draws on the experience of loss in her writing. She sets her books abroad and aims to infuse the love and loss with the extremely seductive beauty of the East.

Her latest book, The Tuscan Contessa, marks a new departure for Dinah as it’s her first set in Europe.

Although Dinah and her husband spent five wonderful years living in a small 16th Century village in the Sierra de Aracena in Northern Andalusia, she’s happy to say they now live close to her family in Gloucestershire along with two crazy Maine Coon cats.

Twitter: @DinahJefferies 


I’m using my review of Before the Rains in my Reading Challenge : A book set in the past during a time of turmoil

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