East of Aden by Elisabeth McNeill
|East of Aden by Elisabeth McNeill|
|Category: Women's Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: Good on India and the Indian experience in the early sixties but without a strong story or charactersiation.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 224||Date: June 2011|
|Publisher: Robert Hale Ltd|
It was said that something strange happened to women when they went east of Aden. The normal rules of behaviour seemed to have been left at home and anything – well just about anything – seemed to go. Back in the early nineteen sixties three women met in Bombay. How would they fare in the hot climate? It wasn't just the women who changed when they went out to India, either. How would the husbands of Jess, Joan and Jackie cope when sex seemed to be freely available wherever they looked?
I know that it was useful to be able to refer to the women as 'the three J's' but I did struggle to separate them on occasions. Joan wasn't so bad – she was the American with rather more money than the either of the two English women – but right up to the end of the book I was still confused between Jess and Jackie. They're all spirited young women and I did warm to them as a group if not as individuals.
I did warm to India though and Elisabeth McNeill brings it over so well, with the heat and general grubbiness of the city compared to the bungalow in the hills, where the air is like champagne. She also catches the ex-patriot attitudes to Indians and the way that some people can spend an entire posting to the sub-continent without leaving the ex-patriot compound.
The story is interesting if not compelling. The three women all encounter problems in their marriages for very different reasons – and they all react differently. The temptations on offer and the risks which go with them are not those found back home and each of the women struggles to cope. The results were interesting if not exciting, particularly when looked back on many years later.
The book would have benefited from a better editing and proof reading. I was pulled out of the story on several occasions when I couldn't quite understand what I read – particularly when a diary apparently sold yoghurt.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
For more in a similar vein we can recommend The Immigrant by Manju Kapur.
You can read more book reviews or buy East of Aden by Elisabeth McNeill at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy East of Aden by Elisabeth McNeill at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.