Ellie arrives in Darjeeling with her British husband, en route to Kathmandu. They have ten-month-old, golden-haired twins, and despite appearing to be a happy family, Ellie’s relationship with the overbearing, philandering Francis is disintegrating. At a cocktail party, Ellie meets Hugh Douglas, a maverick explorer and botanist. Despite the rumours surrounding Hugh, Ellie is drawn to him. A year later, Nepal is devastated by a catastrophic earthquake and in a falling building, Ellie is forced to make an instant, and terrible, decision: she has time to save only one of her children. When she returns for her son’s body the next day, it has gone. Ellie knows he cannot have disappeared; someone, somewhere has her child, and it is to Hugh that she turns for help.
Nothing is stronger than a mother’s love for her child.
I loved the gorgeously, wonderful location of ‘The Himalayan Summer’. I’ve always wanted to visit the Himalayas, Tibet in particular, the setting drew me in completely and fuelled my enjoyment of this book. The cover is beautiful and promised escape to exotic, breath-taking and magical places, I’m happy to say with Louise Brown’s superb descriptions of the Himalaya’s, I was transported to another time and place.
“The fields were a mosaic of colours: brilliant greens; rich yellow where the mustard was flowering early; and black where crops had been recently harvested and the earth was left bare”
This is a tale of the powerful love a mother has for her child. All through the book I couldn’t help but wonder what I would do if faced with the same horrifying situation as Ellie. She is a woman possessed when it comes to finding her son and stops at nothing to find him.
There were some truly hateful characters in this book, I love to hate people as I’m reading about their exploits and ‘The Himalayan Summer’ certainly offered two of the worst fictional human beings I’ve come across lately – Ellie’s husband, Francis and his buddy Davies. These two are just awful awful creatures. Francis is a drinker and only cares about hunting exotic game, Davies is attracted to money and power. And young girls.
I only have a small niggle, some of language just didn’t seem to fit with the story or the time period. At times it was a little brash. However, like I said this was only a minor issue for me, the location made up for it in my opinion.
I did find the ending slightly predictable and I didn’t enjoy this as much as ‘Eden Gardens’ also by Louise Brown. But I still enjoyed it and it was a great story to escape with.
“The mornings were suffused by a delicate haze, and in the late afternoons, the mellow yellow light faded to gold, and then to orange.”
BOOKISH CORNER RATING – 4/5 STARS
Louise Brown has lived in Nepal and travelled extensively in India, sparking her love of the south Asia. She was a senior lecturer in sociology and Asian studies at the university of Birmingham, where she worked for nearly twenty years. In research for her critically acclaimed non-fiction books, she’s witnessed revolutions and even stayed in a Lahore brothel with a family of traditional courtesans. Louise has three grown up children and lives in Birmingham.
‘The Himalayan Summer’ is out now in paperback published by Headline. With thanks to bookbridgr for my review copy.
If you like the sound of ‘The Himalayan Summer’ then these are worth a look too:
‘Eden Gardens’ by Louise Brown
‘The Tea Planter’s Wife’ by Dinah Jefferies
‘The Silk Merchant’s Daughter’ by Dinah Jefferies