As you probably know, I love to travel and this year, amongst other places I went to India for the first time. With that in mind I had to ask Janet MacLeod Trotter to stay in with me to tell me about one of her books (all of which look exactly my kind of read).
Staying in with Janet MacLeod Trotter
Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Janet. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.
Which book have you brought along to share this evening and why have you brought it?
I’ve chosen In The Far Pashmina Mountains, my latest historical novel because I think it’s ideal for a cosy autumn night in, where we can escape to hot, tropical India and adventure!
(Never mind cosy autumn nights. I think In The Far Pashmina Mountains looks perfect for any time Janet.)
What can we expect from an evening in with In The Far Pashmina Mountains?
This is history and romance on a sweeping ‘canvas’ from the Scottish Hebrides to the Himalayas. Although my story and main characters are fictional, much of it is based on historical fact. It depicts the adventure and endeavour of the British in the early 19th century who needed to make a living by going overseas. The hero – like my own MacLeod ancestor – has to leave the Isle of Skye for economic reasons and secures a position in the East India Company Army, seeking his fortune in India.
(You’ve got me hooked already!)
My heroine grows up in a Northumbrian lighthouse and this early tough life makes her the resilient and resourceful woman that she becomes.
A major part of the book is set in Bengal and in the mountains of northern India. It depicts life in colonial Calcutta in the precarious days before modern medicine or the comfort of electric fans – wine was cooled by wrapping bottles in wet cloths and hanging them between the trees!
When the action moves into the mountains, we get a glimpse of early hill station life in Simla (now Shimla) – a place dear to my heart as, nearly a century later, my grandparents and mother would live there in the 1920s. My granddad was a forester and from his diaries and old cine films I discovered that my plucky granny also went with him into camp and on long arduous treks into the Himalayas. They even took my mother as a baby, in her pram which was strapped onto poles and carried up the mountain paths!
(Wow! What a trip for them.)
Four years ago, on a fact-finding trip to India, I discovered the old house in Shimla where they had lodged when my mum was two years old – but that’s another story!
(You’ll have to come back another time as I want to know more now!)
The novel finally takes the reader to Afghanistan where the fate of the British and their families hangs by a thread.
In The Far Pashmina Mountains was chosen as a Kindle First book for September and has had some lovely reviews, such as: ‘Totally absorbing – were it not for tired eyes I would have read this book from cover to cover without a break!’
(You know I have no control over this and I am going to HAVE to read In The Far Pashmina Mountains don’t you?)
What else have you brought along and why?
I have with me a copy of the register for the East India Company Army which shows my ancestor, Donald MacLeod, being promoted from Ensign to Lieutenant – his name is fourth from the bottom and incorrectly spelt!
(What a wonderful document to find.)
I also have a photo of the house on Skye where he lived until he was nineteen and went off to seek his fortune in India – sadly he never made it back.
I’ve brought along my Afghan jacket! When I was 18 I travelled overland to India on a bus and visited Afghanistan in November, so I know how cold it can get in the mountains in winter and have some inkling of the hardships my characters must have suffered.
(Having only just discovered what a wonderful country India is, I’m so jealous of that experience Janet. That’s a gorgeous jacket by the way too!)
When visiting Shimla on our recent trip, one of the tastiest meals we had was simple street food – spicy potatoes and dahl served with piping hotpuri (a small, round piece of bread made of unleavened wheat flour and deep-fried). So like my hero, we’ll sit around eating this – delicious!
Now, I have to say Janet, that you have been an ideal guest because In The Far Pashmina Mountains sounds like the perfect book for me, you’ve taken on a journey to an area I’d love to visit again and brought the kind of food I love to eat. Thank you so much for staying in with me and making it such an entertaining evening.
In The Far Pashmina Mountains
From shipwreck and heartbreak to treachery and war: can their love survive?
Abandoned as a baby and raised in a remote lighthouse off the wild Northumberland coast, Alice Fairchild has always dreamed of adventure. When a fierce storm wrecks a ship nearby, she risks everything in an act of bravery that alters the course of her life.
Aboard the doomed vessel is the handsome John Sinclair, a Scottish soldier on his way to India. The connection between them is instant, but soon fate intervenes and leaves Alice heartbroken and alone. Determined to take charge of her destiny but secretly hoping her path will cross again with John’s, she too makes a new start in colonial India.
Life there is colourful and exotic, but beneath the bright facade is an undercurrent of violence, and when the British invade Afghanistan, Alice is caught up in the dangerous campaign. When at last she hears news of John, she is torn between two very different lives. But will she follow her head or her heart?
In The Far Pashmina Mountains is available for purchase here.
About Janet MacLeod Trotter
Janet MacLeod Trotter is the author of numerous bestselling and acclaimed novels, including The Hungry Hills, which was nominated for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, and The Tea Planter’s Daughter, which was nominated for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Novel of the Year Award. Much informed by her own experiences, MacLeod Trotter was raised in the north-east of England by Scottish parents and travelled in India as a young woman. She recently discovered diaries and letters belonging to her grandparents, who married in Lahore and lived and worked in the Punjab for nearly thirty years, which served as her inspiration for the India Tea Series. She now divides her time between Northumberland and the Isle of Skye.