The Kashmir Shawl

The Kashmir Shawl

Book - 2011
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Newlywed Nerys Watkins leaves rural Wales for the first time in her life, to accompany her husband on a missionary posting to India. As war engulfs Europe, the Watkins are in remote Ladakh, high up in the Himalayas. Nerys is lonely, but she makes a glamorous new friend, Myrtle McMinn, who introduces her to the lakeside city of Srinagar. Here, in the exquisite heart of Kashmir, the British live on carved wooden houseboats and dance, flirt and gossip as if there is no war. With her husband still up in Ladakh, Nerys has a new-found freedom to explore, and it is here that she first meets Swiss mountaineer Rainer Stamm.But as war draws ever closer, life in Srinagar becomes less frivolous. With their husbands away, Nerys and Myrtle are caught up in a dangerous friendship with the younger, vulnerable Caroline Bowen. And by the time the men return life has changed beyond measure for all of them.Years later, when Mair Ellis clears out her father's house, she finds an exquisite antique shawl, woven from the finest pashm wool in all the shades of lake water and mountain skies. Wrapped within its folds is a lock of child's hair. Tracing her grandparents' roots back to India and Kashmir, Mair attempts to unlock the secrets of their past in a quest that will change her life forever

Publisher: London : HarperCollins, 2011.
ISBN: 9780007285969
0007285965
Characteristics: 468 p. ;,24 cm.

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DorisWaggoner
Aug 06, 2014

A full step above a beach read, this story of multi-cultural love during WW II raises serious issues. Nerys' grandchildren must go through her things after their grandfather dies, finding an exquisite, worn, Indian shawl, and a baby's curl. Only Mair among the grandchildren feels a need to pursue the grandmother she didn't know, and goes to Kashmir. Not realizing the area's in the midst of tribal warfare, she finds herself caught between that and the beautiful, exotic setting Nerys wrote of in her journal decades before. She meets people who knew her grandmother, and a charismatic young Western couple on their way to Srinagar, whose delightful toddler dies of the bite of a rabid dog. Mair learns that her grandparents' marriage wasn't aways happy, as his vocation made him feel guilty about their love. He left her alone for months on end, while seeking converts. Nerys is befriended by an enigmatic man, not in uniform and therefore suspect. They fall in love, though unspoken. He helps get a pregnant woman out of India, promising to return for Nerys, but never comes. Her husband returns for her, more than a year late, and after the war, they return to Wales, where they finally have their only child. The setting is of course exotic, evoked beautifully; the Indians are sympathetically portrayed against the backdrop of the stiff WW II Brits, and, yes, there are romances, in both parts of the parallel stories. I greatly enjoyed it, though it was a bit difficult to keep the various plot threads from unraveling in my head at times.

v
VegasGal
Jan 22, 2014

Loved it. One of the best reads I've had in month. Makes me want to go to Kashmir.

mrsgail5756 Sep 30, 2013

A very interesting book. I would recommend for all to read.

2003dora17 Dec 26, 2012

A beautiful story set in Kashmir at the height of the British Raj.

s
Sisbot
Aug 19, 2012

Romance Novel Association 2012 Winner of the Epic category

I enjoyed this book. I enjoyed the look into Kashmir in 1942 and the making of the shawls. A great summer read.

msingh Apr 20, 2012

I loved this book, I have never been to Kashmir but reading this book I felt I have seen kashmir.

c
cheadlebeagle
Apr 06, 2012

My mother loved this book but I did not find it as engaging and it was also a bit predictable. Not to me as good as her usual efforts.

Junglequeen Oct 05, 2011

A nice read. I had to read to the end to find out what happened so did not get much sleep!

It is two parallel stories, a grandmother's and a granddaughter's. Nerys was a newly married young woman who went out to India with her missionary husband. Mair the granddaughter,decades later, discovers an exquisite shawl and a lock of child's hair tucked inside it hidden in back of a drawer of an old dresser in her late father's house. Mair decided to go to India to trace her grandparent's roots and find out the secrets and mystery surrounding her grandparents.

It also includes a fascinating history of the handmade shawl making industry.

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