(em PT no fim, mais abreviado)
This book was sold to me as a romantic tale set in troubled times in India. When I bought the ebook, I didn't check the number of pages (the kindle edition is 628 pages long) but it wouldn't have mattered, I don't mind long books.
The long book is divided in parts that match, I think, different phases in the main character's life, and they couldn't be read separately, though the whole story (it's over 700 pages in paper editions) could be made into a saga. And maybe it is, in paper?
I started reading it and was very surprised at first, because the romance was told in very few pages. Then I realized that was just the backstory and the real heroine, our main character, would be (Countess, I think) Winter de Ballesteros, the little girl with blue-black hair and huge dark eyes born in Luckworm, India, to a beautiful blond English mother and a handsome dark Spanish father. She becomes an orphan very early and is sent back to England to live with her mother's family. So, her story starts in England, as a child, see her get engaged, as a child, to a much older man, who is an officer in the Company in India and not a good man, and returns to India while she stays in England, because she is... well, 11 or 12 years old and a really small fragile girl. She is excited to go back to India one day because she has such wonderful memories of it, and also because her only friend in the house is her very very old great-grandfather, who eventually dies. And this is when Winter's story really begins, though we, readers, have read more than a hundred pages already. Then we have her (long) trip to India, on board we meet Alex Randall, our hero, Kishan Prasad, the Arbuthnots, Carlyon, Colonel Moulson and in India such a huge number of other characters, mostly in the military, that I sometimes couldn't keep track of them.
The book is wonderfully written. The research for the sepoy rebellion is magnificent (of course, I have no idea if it's accurate, but it's definitely detailed), the characters are well drawn and intense, the descriptions of India are so beautiful that you can see it and feel it... the stifling heat and humidity, the smells and colours, the sounds even, and the story is, in itself, very interesting.
So, why did it take me 3 months to read this book and why didn't I like it more? It was too much, sometimes, and too little, sometimes. The descriptions were magnificent, but there were too many of them. And it's great to know about the politics in the Company, the excess of self confidence and the constant errors and lack of understanding that led to the rebellion, but there was so much of it. Alex and other characters were constantly discussing the politics and the minds of the Indian people, and it often got a bit repetitive, because he was always gunning for the same and repeating the same. Also, the characters thoughts were a bit extended... What was not enough? There was quite a bit of interaction between the characters, of course, even between our main characters, but because there was so much (so much!!) of the rest, it seemed insufficient, to the point when I came to the conclusion that this was not a love story at all, it was a story of the revolt with a little bit of love in it. I would have gone into it in a different mind set, had I known, and maybe I wouldn't have considered giving up at about two thirds of the book... because I was getting tired of the rebellion brewing, but not happening, of the love story (sort of) brewing, but not happening...
I stuck with it, and I'm glad, because it did get better once the sepoy rebelled. There is a really good part when they're running, but then the whole thing in the end feels, rushed, their love feels rushed... and I was a bit disappointed, because after more than 500 pages of waiting, I got less than 100 of the actual revolt and of their love (and rarely in the main stage). The writing of the rebellion itself, I must say, is very well done, it's gruesome and bloody and horrible, as it should be.
On the whole, it's a really good book, I think, just not balanced enough for me and... well, not exactly what I expected.
Esperava deste longo livro (628 páginas na versão ebook que li, mais de 700 em papel), uma história de amor com a revolta do sepoy na India, como pano de fundo.
Creio que obtive o contrário, uma história da revolta dos sepoy - e da luta de uma personagem mais esclarecida, o herói, Alex Randall - para evitá-la - com uma história de amor pelo meio. Não é a impressão que temos de início, por acompanhamos o nascimento da personagem feminina, Winter de Ballesteros (e antes disso outras história de amor dos pais) e o seu crescimento, primeiro na India, depois em Inglaerra, onde sonha sempre com um regresso, e depois o seu regresso à India, com dezasseis ou dezassete anos, para se casar com um quase desconhecido, que não vê há vários anos. Vem acompanhada por Alex Randall e, claro, sabemos onde vai residir o verdadeiro interesse amoroso da história... mas antes mesmo disso, antes de se conhecerem sequer, já tinhamos começado a conhecer a situação na India, e uma vez lá, o livro arrasta-se em explicações políticas, interessantes mas excessivas, tanto que se tornam repetitivas, e perde-se um pouco o equilíbrio. Para mais, a vida de Winter arrasta-se e o concretizar de uma ligação amorosa é empurrado constantemente para segundo plano pela guerra que se avizinha e pelas preocupações e contrariedades da vida de cada um deles e acaba por só ter lugar quase no fim do livro. Soube-me a pouco, quando pensei que ia ler o contrário.
O livro está muito bem escrito, as descrições da India são tão intensas que se sentem o calor e a humidade, os cheiros, as cores, os sons, e as dos ataques na revolta são arrepiantes. Não somos de maneira nenhuma poupados e isso é bom. As personagens são igualmente boas - algumas devidamente exasperantes. O problema que tive com o livro foi a falta de equilíbrio, um certo arrastar e, na verdade, a frustração das expectativas.