Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Review: Tiger Hills by Sarita Mandanna

Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2010

Luscious jungles, rolling hills and rich coffee plantations....

Often described as the 'Scotland of India' the stunning landscapes of Coorg in Southern India have been home to generations of Sarita Mandanna's family and her love and knowledge of this land is revealed in the beautiful imagery of nature, the birds and animals that form the setting for her novel. At first it seemed a little too overwhelming but gradually the reader is drawn into the lives of the people and the way they live, the clothes and food, the rituals and customs are detailed and make fascinating reading.

The story begins in 1878 when the heroine, Devi, is born - the first girl for sixty years for her family she grows to be spirited, beautiful and adored by everyone. While still a child a young boy, Devanna, who has tragically lost his mother ,is taken into the family and the two children grow up inseparable, "like two eggs in a nest' and it seems their futures will always be linked. But everything changes when they attend a 'tiger wedding' and Devi first sees Machu, the celebrated tiger killer and a hunter of great repute. Devi vows that one day she will marry him. It is this love that will drive a wedge between Devi and Devanna and sow the seeds of tragedy.
What happens is heartbreaking and shows how easily a moment's wrong action can cause the most devastating consequences to so many. I felt so sad for each of these young people at the time but I later began to lose sympathy with Devi and her inability to move on and see beyond her own selfishness.

The years the book spans, 1878 - 1930's was a time of great political and social change - the work of the missionaries, the fluctuating fortunes of the coffee plantations and the British influence are all themes within the book but most of the time unobstrusively in the background and it was only in the last part it got a bit too political for me. Like many of these saga type books where the first generation captivates and interest flags towards the end.

It's not always easy reading but overall I really enjoyed it -  it was excellent historical fiction and a fascinating glimpse at a very beautiful part of the world I previously knew nothing about.

Historical Tapestry ABC Challenge

T is for Tiger Hills


  1. Wow, this sounds interesting. I do like books set in India and other unusual locations.

    Thanks for your continued participation in our challenge.

  2. Great review, I am a but unsure about the book but you do make it sound good

  3. I agree - it makes a change to get away from European history. I hope you'll read and enjoy.