I absolutely love dual narratives of a story that spans over decades and The Midnight Rose is just that. After having read The Lavender Garden by Lucinda Riley, I knew I wanted to read more of her books. I have read The Italian Girl, which I liked, but between The Midnight Rose and The Lavender Garden I’m torn if I have to tell you which one is my favourite.
The story plays off in England and India. Past and present. Anahita is a young girl who comes from a higher caste, yet impoverished family who serves as a companion to princess Indira. Unlike her previous mistress, princess Jameera, Indira treats her well. Like a best friend, in fact. She moves with Indira to study abroad in England, where she meets Donald Astbury and his unpleasant mother, Maud.
Present day, Rebecca is a film actress who gets an exciting role to play a role set in 1920s and they film at a beautiful and magnificent mansion called Astbury estate. With the estate as seclusion, she gets to have some privacy to make sense of her tumultuous relationship with a fellow well known actor. Meanwhile, her uncanny resemblance to Violet, Donald Astbury’s wife, seems to unsettle not only her, but the current Lord Astbury as well.
Anahita has written the story of her life for the son she had lost, but never believed dead. She entrusts her life story to her great grandson, Ari Malik, with whom she pleads to find out what happened to her son. After not believing his great grandmother, Ari only starts investigating her claims a few years after Anahita’s death. Arriving at the Astbury mansion at the same time Rebecca was filming they become friends and he shares Anahita’s manuscript with her. Together they are on a quest to find out the truth of what happened to the son, but they also learn the true and heartbreaking story that is Anahita’s life. What seems to be bad, couldn’t possibly get worse, but it does… and Maud Astbury is at the root of everything bad that happened. If I had to give the cake to the worst mother in literature that I’ve read up until now, it would be Maud.
The Midnight Rose is a novel that expertly weaves the tale of love, lost, betrayal and tragedy. It is a thoroughly enjoyable read that I completely lost myself into. It’s unputdownable and takes you on a journey of early 20th century England and India under British rule. The historical detail felt real and not overdone. It was interesting to read the privileges (or lack thereof) of a woman in India, especially if you are from the wrong caste. Both in career opportunities and marriage potential. Same applies to England, but here the racial prejudices comes in, because Anahita is not only a woman, but a woman of colour as well. The atmosphere of the novel is great and I find that this is the type of “cosy mystery” that would be a perfect winter read. If you enjoy Kate Morton or historical fiction told in dual narratives, I would most definitely recommend you pick this one up!