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The Splendor of Silence: A Novel [Hardcover]

Indu Sundaresan


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Book Description

Sept. 12 2006
From internationally best-selling author Indu Sundaresan comes a heartrending tale of tragic love and clashing cultures in World War II India.

In 1942, Sam Hawthorne, a young U.S. Army captain, arrives in a tiny princely state in western India. He carries combat wounds and several secrets, one of which is the real reason behind his visit: to find his brother Mike, an idealistic American soldier who disappeared after joining the local struggle for independence from the British. But Sam's mission is soon threatened when he falls in love with Mila, daughter of the local political agent. Betrothed to the local prince, Mila draws Sam into a doomed affair that places them both in the path of dynastic intrigue, racial prejudice, and the explosive circumstances of a country torn between imperialism and nationalism.

--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Atria; 1 edition (Sept. 12 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743283678
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743283670
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.5 x 3.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 635 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,383,069 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Sundaresan (A Feast of Roses) returns to her native India for a sprawling story of forbidden love set against the backdrop of WWII and the struggle for Indian independence. U.S. Army Capt. Sam Hawthorne comes to the small kingdom of Rudrakot in the Sukh desert of western India, ostensibly to recover from an injury suffered during a rescue mission behind Japanese lines in Burma. Sam has secrets, however. He's a spy, a member of the fledgling OSS, and he's looking for his brother Mike, who disappeared while serving in a local regiment, the Rudrakot Rifles, where "even his name was false." Complicating matters, Sam has a brief but torrid affair with Mila, the daughter of the kingdom's Indian political agent, who is betrothed to the local prince. As Sam plots to free his brother from a nearby detention center, Mila's brother Ashok becomes involved in a nationalist plot to bomb the car of the local British representative in Rudrakot. The myriad subplots and some overwriting detract, but Sundaresan renders Rudrakot vividly and the sympathetic (if doomed) characters generate enough friction to keep the pot boiling. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"Sundaresan unfolds her bittersweet story in flashbacks that are full of sharply drawn details and adroit dialogue. It's a riveting read."

-- The Seattle Times

"Finely researched and full of evocative details, this sweeping tale of intrigue brings to life a fascinating era with richly drawn characters and a story that is engrossing, deep, and surprising."

-- Samina Ali, author of Madras on Rainy Days

"There's no question that Sundaresan is a gifted storyteller with an obvious passion for history."

-- USA Today --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
A cold moon washed the skies as the single, black caterpillar line of the night train to Rudrakot cleaved through the Sukh desert. Read the first page
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  28 reviews
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vivid and captivating June 15 2007
By Erin Brooks - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Being a big fan of her two previous books, I was looking forward to Sundaresan's new book. I wasn't disappointed. She is an amazing storyteller. This story takes you to a fictional region of Northwestern India, in May 1942. Sam Hawthorne is a US soldier on mission in Burma, who goes to Rudrakot to search for his missing brother. There he stays at the political agent's house, where he meets Mila. Mila is in love with Jai, the prince of Rudrakot, and is sure to marry him. Sam's presence in Rudrakot does not go unnoticed and causes a stir within the political and military circles, as well as within Mila's house and Mila herself, and it will have repercussions long after the 4 days are over. This whirlwind of a story tackles many topics, all relevant to understand the period and the conflicts within the characters: the effects of the British presence in India, the nationalist movement, politics, racism, young people coming of age, family relations, the social system in India and between Indians/ British, history. Sundaresan does a great job with this story which will stay with you a long time after you finish the last line. Highly recommended.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars strong historical tale Sept. 9 2006
By Harriet Klausner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
In 1942 in the Kingdom of Rudrakot in Northwest India, U.S. Army Captain Sam Hawthorne comes to this desert environs to recuperate from an injury he received while working a rescue behind Japanese lines in Burma. However, to the local desert people, Sam's claims as to why he is here seem odd. Truthfully, Sam is an espionage agent of the recently formed OSS, but his secret assignment is personal. His brother Mike vanished while voluntarily serving with the Rudrakot Rifles in an independence from the Britain movement.

Though he knows better, Sam cannot resist a tryst with Mila, engaged to a prince and the daughter of the kingdom's Indian political agent, who took the American into his home. He learns that his brother is a prisoner at a detention center and that Mila's brother Ashok has joined a group planning to assassinate the British representative in Rudrakot. If he stops the plot, he loses his chance to free his sibling.

Though the myriad of subplots can become difficult to follow though needed to emphasize the complexity of India in WW II, Indu Sundaresan provides historical fans with A FEAST OF ROSES as the deep look at Rudrakot enables readers to understand the war effort vs. the quest for independence. The story line is character driven by the locals who bring to vivid life the time and place. Sam is an interesting protagonist as he knows better, but cannot resist the lure of Mila. Fans will appreciate this strong historical tale.

Harriet Klausner
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Vivid and Fulfilling Read May 12 2007
By Jason T. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
For avid readers of historical fiction, Indu Sundaresan's latest book is a jewel. With elements of adventure, espionage and romance weaved into the story, you are left wanting more and yet, satisfied with the story's ending. The book paints a vivid picture of a world war two era city in India where an American soldier goes to look for his missing brother and in the course of a few days comes away with much more than he expected and leaves behind consequences that reverberate years after.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of My All Time Favorite Novels July 14 2007
By Alexandra Kogan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book is simply fantastic. I couldn't put it down. Sundaresan is a brilliant novelist, with an eye for observation. Her prose is lush, her analogies wonderful, the story and characters heartbreakingly endearing. It was very well executed, the plot moving seamlessly through different story lines. The reader is taken on a breath taking tour of India, the sights and sounds brought to you in vivid details thanks to Sundaresan's writing. The love story is beautiful, handly delicately yet with passion. I highly recommend this novel, especially for a vacation.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not better than Indu Sundaresan's previous books Jan. 2 2007
By Shareen Joshi - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book is decent, but definitely pales in comparison to either "The Twentieth Wife", or "A Feast of Roses", both of which are among my favourite books ever. While the book is written well and eventually captivates a reader, the plot takes a while to unfold, and at times seems a little dull. Sundaresan however, still strikes me as a wonderful author and I look forward to reading her books for years to come!

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