Before the Rains has been on my radar for quite some time after spotting a copy at my local Waterstones. The blurb seemed to really jump off the page and offer the reader everything you could want in a historical fiction.
Before the Rains is set in 1930’s India, an India still being ruled by the British and surrounded with political unrest and India’s desire to be independent. The story follows Eliza, a recently widowed young woman coming out of an unhappy marriage and has come to India to find a career for herself as a photographer. In the 1930s when this book is set women had far fewer options than they do to today and Eliza knows how limited her options could be. So when the opportunity arrises for her to follow her dreams and head back to her childhood home of India Eliza grabs it with both hands and does not let go.
India holds many secrets for Eliza even though she doesn’t know it. She’s commissioned to take photographs of the Royal Family including the Maharaja and his awkward wife Priya and it is while at the palace that she meets the Maharaja’s younger brother the handsome and charismatic Prince Jay.
What did I think? ( Slight Spoilers Ahead)
I haven’t felt this conflicted about a book in quite some time, I loved the majority things about Before the Rains particularly how feminist the book is. Eliza is a strong young woman who comes from a difficult family situation and although the era she is brought up in and the fact she is a woman isn’t in her favour she wants a career she knows from her previous marriage that she doesn’t just want to be someone’s wife and to live on the sidelines that won’t be enough for her, she wants more and she gets it and becomes a photographer not just in England but in India.
The book is filled with some great, strong female characters all different and diverse with an important role in the story. Because the story is set in a British-run India the fact that Eliza is English is hugely significant when she arrives she thinks she knows who she is but after spending time with Jay in India her political views surrounding Britain’s presence in India start to change and the deeper Eliza gets with Prince Jay the more she forgets who she is and what she is doing, Jay is set to rule if his brother Anish were unfit or were to die. Oh yeah did I mention interracial romance? Well, I’m mentioning now and it’s pretty swoon-worthy too.
Overall I would give this book 3/5 stars I could have rated higher as I enjoyed reading about India and the political situation during that time period and really loved the characters of Eliza and Jay. But I felt the writing style was quite undeveloped and unsculpted and I found the ending a little unbelievable, I would love to hear thoughts from anyone else who read this book.
I hope you enjoyed my review of Before the Rains I’ll see you next time!
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