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The Sandalwood Tree    by Elle Newmark order for
Sandalwood Tree
by Elle Newmark
Order:  USA  Can
Atria, 2012 (2011)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

The Sandalwood Tree by Elle Newmark is an absolute delight. Writing beautifully with an artist's eye, Newmark is able to bring alive 1947 India, just as Mountbattan has advanced the date of partition and the English are about to turn the rule of India over to its inhabitants which will cause great dissension amongst the Indians.

Evie Mitchell, her husband Martin and their five year-old son arrive to live in a colonial bungalow while Martin works on his anthropology thesis. Evie finds letters hidden in brick wall sent between two English women in 1857. Intrigued, she looks for more. In the meantime, there are uprisings which present as danger to Evie's husband. A World War II veteran, he has come home as a ghost of the man who left to fight a war.

Evie is entranced by the letters and wants to discover more about the two women. She puts herself in the midst of possibly touchy situations. India is a tinderbox ready to ignite. And being American is not likely to save the Mitchells' lives in a riot.

The richly described countryside and the peoples who live there stand out in the vivid colors of Newmark's palette. As a reader, you will experience both a festival and a suttee. I could almost taste the fiery curry placed on the Mitchell dinner table each night by their cook and catch the fear as Evie continues in her search for a record of the two women letter writers.

This is a lyrical account of a period in history that most of us know very little about, and of a country chock full of pageant and mystery. There's also romance and Evie's look deep into her soul to attempt to save her marriage. The Sandalwood Tree is not to be missed.

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