Originally published: 11 June 2020
Author: Jenny Ashcroft
Published by: Sphere
Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 369 pages
Reading dates: 9-13June 2020
It is New Year’s Eve in Bombay in 1913. Madeline Bright has come to live in India with her parents after spending many years at boarding school in the United Kingdom and is homesick. But at midnight she spots Luke Devereaux in the distance who overhears her talking about her homesickness. Determined to encourage her to enjoy her time in India, he gifts her a guidebook which takes her on adventures through Bombay. They don’t have their first proper meeting for several months and when they finally do, the attraction is instant.
Maddie’s mother disapproves of them, wishing instead for Maddie to marry devoted surgeon Guy Bowen instead. But with war on the horizon, Maddie knows her own mind and they fall in love, rushing to get married. Within days, Luke is sent to France as an officer to fight in World War 1 and Maddie discovers she is pregnant, giving birth to baby Iris while Luke is away fighting.
Meet Me in Bombay was such a good book – I felt transported through time to a different world. India in the early 1900s is still until the thrall of the British Empire and I loved reading about the decadence of life as an English person living in Bombay at that time. Because of Maddie’s adventures with her guidebook, we also get to see some of the real Bombay – the colours and scents coming alive from the page.
Luke is the perfect gentleman…handsome and considerate and so romantic. On their first date, he takes her by boat to an Indian beach market and from then on, takes her on lots of romantic adventures. Maddie is hopeful that after they marry, they can return to England to live in his house together but the outbreak of World War 1 puts pay to that plan.
The descriptions of the conditions on the battlefield are tough to read. I had no idea so many Indian soldiers were drafted in. They came to France unprepared for fighting, with summer uniforms and with some officers who couldn’t speak their language.
Interspersed in the story, we here from a man who has been sent from the war to a convalescent home in Surrey. Physically recovered after the injuries he suffered while fighting, he has no memory of who he is, and he spends several years there with only the odd recollection of his life before.
Meet Me in Bombay is a glorious read. I love historical fiction and different cultures, so this ticks all the boxes. Jenny Ashcroft is able to spin an engrossing and moving love story. With a rich cast of characters (who I could totally see in a Sunday night TV series), this is the perfect summer read.
Thank you to Stephanie from Sphere for my gifted copy.
About the author
Jenny Ashcroft lives in Brighton with her husband and two children. Before that, she spent many years living and working in Australia and Asia – a time which gave her an enduring passion for stories set in exotic places.
She has a degree in history, and has always been fascinated by the past – in particular the way that extraordinary events can transform the lives of normal people.