What they say:
Shortlisted for the Epic Novel award in the Romantic Novelists Association Books Awards 2014.
A lifelong passion. An endless search.
Spanning four generations, The Midnight Rose sweeps from the glittering palaces of the great maharajas of India to the majestic stately homes of England, following the extraordinary life of a girl, Anahita Chavan, from 1911 to the present day . . .
In the heyday of the British Raj, eleven-year-old Anahita, from a noble but impoverished family, forms a lifelong friendship with the headstrong Princess Indira, the privileged daughter of rich Indian royalty. Becoming the princess’s official companion, Anahita accompanies her friend to England just before the outbreak of the Great War. There, she meets the young Donald Astbury – reluctant heir to the magnificent, remote Astbury Estate – and his scheming mother.
Eighty years later, Rebecca Bradley, a young American film star, has the world at her feet. But when her turbulent relationship with her equally famous boyfriend takes an unexpected turn, she’s relieved that her latest role, playing a 1920s debutante, will take her away from the glare of publicity to the wilds of Dartmoor in England. Shortly after filming begins at the now-crumbling Astbury Hall, Ari Malik, Anahita’s great-grandson, arrives unexpectedly, on a quest for his family’s past. What he and Rebecca discover begins to unravel the dark secrets that haunt the Astbury dynasty . . .
What we say – review by Nikki Mason:
This magnificently sweeping family drama is the perfect form of escapism. It’s full of passion, mysticism, intrigue and atmosphere as it delves into two very different time periods and cultures.
In 1911 we meet Anahita in India, an intelligent and spiritual child whose life is about to take a series of turns that no one could have predicted. We follow her captivating life from her childhood in luxurious Indian palaces, to her startling womanhood in a Devon country estate, the grand Astbury Hall.
In 2011, Anahita’s great-grandson, Ari, is on a mission to find out the details of his mysterious heritage and travels to the hall to discover his family’s secrets. While there he discovers kind-hearted actress, Rebecca Bradley, who is playing a 1920s beauty in a movie set there and who becomes more and more involved in the Hall’s fascinating past herself. Indeed, current owner Sir Anthony seems particularly stuck by her, perhaps as much as Ari himself…
This is a very grand and compelling novel, and while I thoroughly enjoyed the setting and storyline, there was something about it which left me cold. I found the characters weren’t quite fully rounded and though I was rooting for the main players, I wasn’t as emotionally involved with them as I’d like to be. Having said that, the two stories were entwined together perfectly and I never felt frustrated by the onset of one story over the other – both were equally as fascinating.