Thursday, 3 April 2014

The Empress Emerald by J.G. Harlond 5 stars

This was a very enjoyable read. Leo Kazan’s a very likeable hero who has many interesting little traits and some less than honest habits. Drawn to shiny objects, from an early age Leo becomes adept at hiding his pilfered treasures. Had he not been drawn into the intelligence services of the British in Colonial India I think he might have developed into an international jewel thief and the ending would likely have been quite different. Leo is such an interesting character as he grows up in orphanage conditions before being thrust into adulthood at an early age, recognising his own abilities and maximising on them very well. Quick witted, he adapts to the life of the spy so well and lines his pocket in his own way, in addition to any official earnings. 

I found Davina a product of her times. A bit of a dreamer, she is a young woman whose cosseted upbringing has not prepared her for the realities of life. The long, almost sterile, marriage she enters into is something to be borne as a result of her misdeeds- a grin and bear it mentality abounding. Her abandonment by her family is tragic but it was, sadly, something which happened during the 1920s. The romantic threads are nicely woven in this beautifully written story and I found the well researched details of the Colonial India of the first third of the twentieth century very interesting to read, the setting easy to picture.

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