Read The Kashmir Shawl by Rosie Thomas Online


Spanning decades and moving from the stark beauty of the Welsh landscape to the Himalayas and Kashmir, this is a story of bravery, courage and love. Within one exotic land lie the secrets of a lifetime! Newlywed Nerys Watkins leaves rural Wales for the first time in her life, to accompany her husband on a missionary posting to India. Travelling from lonely Ladakh, high upSpanning decades and moving from the stark beauty of the Welsh landscape to the Himalayas and Kashmir, this is a story of bravery, courage and love. Within one exotic land lie the secrets of a lifetime! Newlywed Nerys Watkins leaves rural Wales for the first time in her life, to accompany her husband on a missionary posting to India. Travelling from lonely Ladakh, high up in the Himalayas, Nerys discovers a new world in the lakeside city of Srinagar. Here, in the exquisite heart of Kashmir, the British live on carved wooden houseboats and dance, flirt and gossip as if there is no war. But the battles draw ever closer, and life in Srinagar becomes less frivolous when the men are sent away to fight. Nerys is caught up in a dangerous friendship, and by the time she is reunited with her husband, the innocent Welsh bride has become a different woman. Years later, when Mair Ellis clears out her father's house, she finds an exquisite antique shawl, woven from the finest yarns and embroidered in the shades of lake water and mountain skies. Wrapped within its folds is a lock of child's hair. Tracing her grandparents' roots back to Kashmir, Mair embarks on a quest that will change her life forever....

Title : The Kashmir Shawl
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780007285969
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 400 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Kashmir Shawl Reviews

  • DubaiReader
    2019-02-14 02:45

    An historic saga set in Kashmir.It took me a little while to get into this book at first. Some of the descriptions were a bit dense and the swapping of time scales caused some initial confusion. However, once I had become familiar with the characters they started to feel like friends, particularly those from the 1940's time frame.The central 'character' is a very valuable, finely woven and intricately embroidered Kashmiri shawl, found by Mair while clearing out her parents' posessions after her father's death. Mair is between jobs, has inherited some money, and decides to journey to India with the shawl as an excuse - she wants to find out what she can about her grandmother's life as a missionary in India before and during the war.Interspersed between chapters about Mair's current day travels, is a much more interesting journey through the same country with Nerys Watkins and her missionary husband, Evan, and her two close friends, Myrtle McMinn and Caroline Bowen. This was the section that really grabbed me and the characters that stood out.Once Nerys reached Sringar in Kashmir in 1941, she found the days of the Raj in all their glory; houseboats, drinks at The Club and carefree parties. There was intrigue and gossip, excitement and fun, all more than a quiet missionary's wife from rural Wales had ever encountered. Although a little wary of the excesses, she becomes entwined in the life and falls in love with Sringar. A sequence of events ensues that leaves many open ends, and Mair's current day investigations reveal the answers to many unanswered questions - but should she complete the circle and tell those concerned, or keep her peace?A little unbelievable in parts but altogether an interesting, involving read from an excellent author.Also:A Simple Life 5*Every Woman Knows a Secret 4*

  • Bowerbird
    2019-02-13 02:05

    I do admire authors who have researched their books well and give a true flavour of places they write about. This book has two main storylines in it: the modern heroine Mair's adventures in India as she unravels the story of her grandmother, and that of Nerys, the grandmother, a missionary's wife who lived in Kashmir before the war and Independence. I read the book while on holiday in Sydney visiting our daughter. On the day I finished it, my husband got talking to a lady running a stall in a shopping mall while I visited a nearby shop. The stallholder explained that she came from Kashmir. She was the fifth generation of boat people and the goods she was selling were all made by the men there. - Not Kashmir shawls as in the book, but intricately worked cushion covers, shopping bags etc. Rob was so fascinated he told me about his conversation, not even realising what my latest read was about You can probably guess what souvenirs I brought back to the UK with me.Though not my all-time favourite Rosie Thomas, this book is an excellent read and for me holds personal memories too.

  • Kerry Hennigan
    2019-02-17 07:44

    Rosie Thomas’ latest novel, The Kashmir Shawl, is a book I wanted and expected to like very much. The story of a woman who explores the unknown history of her late grandmother with the aid of a precious Kashmir shawl promised to be intriguing, with plenty of exotic locations and interesting characters. The locations include Wales, Ladakh and Kashmir, plus a few other places along the way. We start out following Mair on her journey of discovery, but in fact, the lengthy flashback chapters that constitute the bulk of the book mean we are considerably ahead of Mair for much of the story. Her grandmother, Nerys Watkins and her missionary husband are in India seemingly isolated from the war raging in Europe. But when Japan attacks Pearl Harbor and Singapore and pushes deeper into Asia, life changes dramatically for the English in India.With their men away at war, the women are left to entertain themselves as best they can in a country where their presence is becoming less and less welcome. Nerys and her friends Myrtle and Caroline could never have dreamed of the changes the war and the absence of husbands will make on their lives. Decades later, Mair attempts to find out both the public and private histories of this staunch group of friends, sitting out the war in a houseboat in Srinagar.I wish The Kashmir Shawl had been edited of one third of its bulk, since even leaving in atmospheric descriptions of the changing locales and the detailed development of characters, there is a substantial amount of padding that is unnecessary. As it is, I was left with the impression that Ms Thomas’ contract specified that her novel was to consist of at least 450 pages, and it does, but to the detriment of the reading experience.The Kashmir Shawl is a mildly enjoyable book that with some skillful editing could have spared this reader a bit of frustration.Kerry Hennigan © September 2011

  • Anne
    2019-01-20 04:43

    I think it’s only fair to declare myself as a massive fan of everything Rosie Thomas has ever written. And that my favourite stories are always those with a dual time frame. And that I have a bit of a “thing” about India at the moment. But even if none of those qualifications applied, this book was a really wonderful read. Dual time frame at its best – strong modern heroine in Mair, even better historical one in Nerys the newly-wed missionary’s wife and Mair’s grandmother. The premise of the story is strong – Mair seeking the story behind a beautiful pashmina shawl and lock of hair found after a bereavement, and the modern search and historical story are beautifully tied together. Kashmir, in modern times and at the close of the Raj, lives and breathes on the page – you really feel the privations, the extremes of temperature, the emotional turmoil in the lives of all the characters. In Nerys’ story, there’s a mesmerising supporting cast in Caroline, Myrtle and particularly the magical Rainer. The story’s quite engrossing, and the ending wholly appropriate. A book I was sorry to finish, but couldn’t wait to find out how it ended. In my view, this is her best yet.

  • Helen Strobridge
    2019-02-20 05:43

    A wonderfully atmospheric book that I just couldn't put down, telling two parallel stories of a group of British women living in Kashmir during WWII, and the modern day re-tracing of their lives by one of their grand-daughters. I am not always a fan of books set in two time periods, but in this case it was done very well, with the bulk of the book set in the 1940s and long sections of the story told before each swap to the other narrative. The stunning descriptions of the landscape and the lifestyle in both present day India and at the height of the British Raj in the 1940s really brought the book to life and the characters were all easy to engage with and memorable. The 1940s sections reminded me very much of Olivia Manning's 'Balkan Trilogy' (also an excellent read). A really enjoyable book.

  • Jeffrey
    2019-02-19 02:58

    The first chapter is a struggle and you'll have to turn pages to get past it with a yawn but when you get to 1940s India the novel takes off.Wonderful descriptions and upper and middle class people we can engage with - if stereotyped - and you really get a feel for life on the lake in that time. Gripping and atmospheric and something to learn. But then you go back to the present... All we want to do is get back to the past.You might just skim through this and read about the 1940s...

  • Book Concierge
    2019-02-20 02:47

    2.5** When her father dies, Mair discovers an exquisite shawl among her parents’ belongings. Neither Mair nor her siblings have ever seen the shawl and can’t imagine what it means. But they remember that their maternal grandparents had been missionaries in northern India and surmise it was brought back by their grandmother. Even more intriguing they find a lock of a child’s hair wrapped in the shawl. Mair decides to go to Kashmir to try to find the origins of this work and how her grandparents might have come to acquire such a valuable artifact.Thomas weaves two stories together into a romantic epic: Mair’s search for the origins of the shawl (as well as a search for her own future), and the historical story of her grandparents, particularly her grandmother’s experiences in 1940s Kashmir. I found the historical story much more interesting, if a bit melodramatic.I have to admit that I was intrigued by the mystery as much as Mair and her siblings were. Having cleaned out my parents’ home and found innumerable things that we have no clue as to their origins, I can easily understand how someone could get wrapped up in trying to find the story behind something so obviously valuable as the shawl Mair finds. But …. I had a hard time reconciling Mair’s just up and taking off to India – for MONTHS – to find the origins of the shawl. And I didn’t really believe the incredible coincidences that Thomas uses to end this story.Still, I did get caught up in the story of Nerys, Rainer, Myrtle and Caroline (1940s Kashmir). And Thomas did a fine job of setting the scene, bringing to life the adventure and romanticism of the exotic locale and different culture. But I didn’t really enjoy the melodramatic elements and felt that the author was trying too hard. Did Mair have to have a background as a circus performer? Did Rainer have to be a magician? Additionally, I really disliked Caroline; she was weak and naïve, and alternately hysterical and practically catatonic. So while portions of the historical story captured my attention, on the whole I think this is a below average novel.

  • Lynda Hunter
    2019-01-20 03:45

    I loved this book. I read it as past of a Book Club read and others in my group found it a bit tedious and slow. I didn't find that at all. In fact that was one of the things I really liked about it. I felt I was on a journey to Kashmir myself and enjoyed all the little "asides" which helped me to see it all so clearly in my mind. I have always wanted to go to India and probably now will never get the opportunity so it really had a special pull for me. I also love fiction which actually also teaches me something. I knew nothing about the exquisite shawls made in Kashmir and when I finished the novel I went straight onto Youtube to search a little more and found a great video which showed just how very precious they are.I really enjoyed the two time settings for the novel but then I always enjoy this in a book. I warmed particularly to Nerys' story and this was the best part of the novel for me although I really loved the interlinking between her story and the journey made by her granddaughter, Mair, to find out the secret of the Kashmir shawl.The characters were drawn out beautifully and I felt able to identify with them all and Rosie Thomas writes in such a way that my entire reading experience of this book was really enjoyable.

  • Dinah Jefferies
    2019-02-14 06:03

    I absolutely loved this book. I read it last year so my memory is a little rusty, but what I remember most is the fact that it was written in two time periods. Both worked well: both were engaging, though I found the earlier period absolutely entrancing. The descriptions were fabulous, and brought the settings vividly to life, and the two stories coincided neatly at the end. An absorbing read.

  •  Barb Bailey
    2019-02-10 08:00

    This book was well written and kept my interest even though it was a long story. The characters were well developed. I like books where I learn something new and I learned a lot about wool , dying and weaving wool and grading wool. I love textiles and did not know anything about Kashmir Shawls , their value or how they were used for dowries. Most of the cities and towns and mountains were well described and sometimes almost made me want to visit India.

  • Maureen Timerman
    2019-01-29 05:01

    What a story Rosie Thomas was written, she had me walking with the Characters through the streets in India. I could almost smell the goats, as was described. We experience the life with the Raj, and the slums. The story begins with the death of her father, Mair finds a beautiful Kashmir Shawl among the belongings. She also finds an old envelope with some hair stored in it. Thus begins her quest for answers, and her trip to India.There are actually two stories told here, some of it we know but Mair never has all the answers. Mair's Grandmother Nerys and Grandfather Evan are missionaries to India, with WWII going on in 1941, we are about to experience life there. Nerys spends time with Myrtle, and Carolyn, you will enjoy the fun times they make out adversity. I really recommend this as a Historical read, so very interesting. Even when Mair goes there, there is fighting between the Hindu's and the Muslims. So very sad. Putting this combined story together is a real page turner, and even though the book is a bit long, it was a quick read.I received this book through The Bookreporter giveaway, and was not required to give a positive review.

  • Anna
    2019-01-20 05:46

    So. Damn. Bored.DNF.

  • Deborah Pawley
    2019-02-14 01:45

    Moving, evocative and raw. Rosie Thomas has created a sweeping epic that captures the true beauty of a country that has sadly been ripped apart and disseminated by hatred and division in more recent times. In order to capture the very essence of her novel's geography Thomas actually travelled extensively throughout the area collating her research and truly experiencing the things that create the history of her story - the landscapes, the smells, the rich past and present of the Kashmiri people; particularly the incredible industry of making shawls and other clothing for an extensive market. She hasn't just written the novel, she has lived it.I was swept away by the beautiful weaving of past and present in Thomas' rendering. Nerys from Wales sets out to find the tale behind the mystery of the exquisite Kashmir shawl she finds in her dead mothers things and in turn finds herself. Played alongside this is Nerys' grandmother's own story - also a tale of self-discovery; but also one of heartbreak, secrets and lies and the enduring power of friendship and unconditional love. The grandmother's story is much stronger and evocative and I enjoyed it much more; but Nerys narrative also has moments of intrigue and beauty too.There were definite weaknesses in the storylines; but these were countered with powerful emotion and thrilling description which gave the novel a place in my memory which will remain for some time.

  • Anshul
    2019-02-12 03:40

    There is an unbelievable authenticity about this book as the story and the description of the life in Kashmir in the 1940s unfolds.It might pass off as total imagination to non-Kashmiris and to someone who has not lived in the valley for a good period of time.Totally out of a picture.The story is brilliant and captures one's curiosity.The sinusoidal pattern of Nerys' story in 1940s and Mair's quest in the present day is beautifully presented.The vivid description of the backdrop and the sounds and sights of Leh,Srinagar and folks,culture, the atmosphere and the personality of the characters are distinctly captured in words by Rosie Thomas. It is absolutely amazing how a spectrum of issues can be highlighted in the same story held by a common thread; ecological issue such as the diminishing population of vultures as a result of feeding on carcasses of animals dosed with Diclofenac and resultant increase in deaths by rabid bites by feral dogs, the alarming issue of the diminishing traditional craft of intricate hand embroidery giving way to mechanised design of shawls, the stark economic disparity in Kashmir in the past and present, the unending political turmoil and social unrest, to name some. In a nutshell what defines a lost paradise, the unparalleled natural beauty is contrasted by instability and lack of sustained progress , all very well suggested in the novel.The impact of European missionaries and the British is undeniable and permanently imprinted on Kashmir in the aspects of school education, lifestyle and social conduct. Apart from keeping the reader entertained with some light passages and the good life in Srinagar under the 'Raj' in general, this book with definitely strike a chord especially with women.The loveliest feature of the book is the exploration of relationships and acknowledging true feelings with honesty.Friendship,love,motherhood,conscious frivolity, relationships that feel like the "oxygen of independence" as descibed by the author are explored in beautiful accounts. Frequent use of local terms dear to the kashmiris like kangri,pheran ,shikaras and kani and references to the local baker baking fresh sesame rolls, steaming mutton stew, the lake, mughal gardens and the inner alleys of the city make this a special one to me as it sure will to everyone who has lived there.The story in itself is captivating and a page turner. This is a brilliantly researched work and just couldn't have been written in a better way!

  • Tamsin
    2019-02-05 06:58

    I absolutely loved this book. I thought it would simply be an easy read, a bit of historical past-present chick-lit if you will, but it was so much more than that. Mair's father has recently died, and in clearing out the family home with her brother and sister, she finds a beautiful hand-made Kashmir decorative pashmina shawl that belonged to her maternal grandmother, Nerys, who spent the years around WWII in Kashmir, as a missionary's wife, with the British Raj gradually disintegrating.Feeling at a transient place in her life, Mair decides to try and trace the history of the shawl, and the lock of hair found with it. Mair's story is interwoven with that of the newly married Nerys, her trials and tribulations as a somewhat reluctant missionary's wife in remote areas of Kashmir, and then more exciting times in lakeside Srinagar, with new friendships and relationships that come about. The portrayals of different marriages and extra-marital relationships are very effectively portrayed, with the constraints and different perspectives of the times playing their part. I found all the characters very believable.Lots of fascinating detail about the pashmina shawl making, and very effective evocation of the landscapes.Would thoroughly recommend!

  • Daffy
    2019-01-21 04:53

    Brilliant! The Kashmir Shawl tells the story of three British women living in Srinagar, Kashmir during the second world war. The author has researched minutely both the history and the environment, yet unlike some novels, though integral, this never inhibits the characters or overwhelms the story. The characters are fully rounded and believable, the reader is seemingly effortlessly transported to the paradise that was Srinagar. But as well as the story of Nerys, Myrtle,Carline and Nerys' grand-daughter Mair, this is also the story of Kashmir and its changing fortunes, which are still unresolved over 60 years after Independence.The Kashmir Shawl is wonderful story telling and totally engrossing, I haven't enjoyed a book so much for a long time.

  • Sofia
    2019-01-28 03:56

    Finished this book last night. I'd really been looking forward to reading this for my book club's read this month as its been nominated before and I've heard a lot of praise for it, plus it's rating on Goodreads is quite high. Sadly though, I think I might have missed something!The first couple of chapters were really laborious. I wasn't connecting or engaging with any of the characters. It starts off in Wales, and intertwines with Kashmir. I lived in Wales for a few years and I'm of Kashmiri heritage. This book still failed to connect with me! So there's this girl called Mair who discovers her grandma's exquisite Shawl from Kashmir and it sets her off on a journey of discovery to uncover the story of her long deceased grandma, Nerys who'd lived in British occupied Kashmir as part of her and her husband's Missionary work. Around about chapter three or four, Nerys makes a proper entrance and she's about the only character I really felt intrigued by. What choices would she make? I was genuinely interested, but also woefully able to predict every single one. Boring! Then there was her friendship with Mrytle and the annoying/pathetic Caroline. That was kind of cute to read about. But here's the real stickler for me.....there are NO KASHMIRI main players to the story. Ok, maybe there's one, kind of, Ravi something or other, and even then he's a spoiled rich little tyrant. Almost an archetypal oriental bad guy. Opulent, rich, tall, dark, smooth, silver tongued, hunky, bad guy -think Jafar from Aladdin, but good looking. Not only that, trust me you will learn NOTHING about Kashmir and it's struggles from this book. You will just learn of the frivolous and criminally lavish lifestyles of British occupiers of Kashmir, while Kashmir itself remains a benign, if not sometimes tragic/backwards backdrops to the story. This is such a let down because I love historical fiction precisely because I've been enriched by so many previously. The ending felt rushed and super predictable too. I just don't understand why so many people liked this book. I gave it 2 stars on Goodreads: one for Nerys (I liked the old girl) and one for the author's efforts to research the intricate Kashmir Shawl making process .

  • Fran
    2019-01-28 02:09

    The Kashmir ShawlRosie ThomasTwo women travel the same road but in different time periods in search of their own identity. Mair begins her journey when her father passes away and within his effects she finds a shawl made of Kashmir. The intricate weaving and the story told within the tattered folds of this woven shawl create a tapestry within it that holds a story about the past. As she tries to read his piece and understand each design in the hope of learning more about her grandmother and her life. But, Mair’s journey is about to begin as she travels to India, visits places that many would love to see today and experiences first hand how a magnificent Pashmina is made, the weaving, the way the sheep are treated and the landscape that covers that country drawing her in from the start. As she becomes more familiar with the country she meets a young woman named Karen who befriends her, as she is frustrated with her young daughter’s behavior and Mair with her acrobatics manages to surprise not only the young child but the mother too. Then the story flashed back to 1941 and we meet Nerys her grandmother whose life is not that much different than hers as she too finds herself trapped in an isolated world controlled by her husband a Reverend devoted to his work. Both women winding up in Srinagar: Mair on her journey to learn more about her past and Nerys with her new found friends to find her present. When things get tough she invites houseguests in order to ease their way and as a result she and the wife become fast friends. When Evan, her husband needs to explore more places for his mission, he encourages her to journey with them and spend some time. With the weather bad, the way hazardous both women wind up in the same place but during different times.With the advent of WWII and the rise of Germany causing problems for some, things begin to change for one woman and the other will explore more as she receives a compelling photo from her brother linking her present to the story from the past. As Mair and Bruno, Karen’s husband wanted to visit a special cemetery and see a certain memorial something seems to spark between them. Telling him about her life and sharing her experiences with him realizing he was a good listener. When Lotus, Karen’s daughter is attacked by a dog things begin to change as her life is in danger. The story then moves to Nerys and Myrtle in the past as they are enjoying Things changed the some young women had to deal with men being away fighting in the war and then Nerys learns that Evan was not going to join for quite some time. The social classes seem the same as people judge you by appearances, wealth and status even back then. Beggars on the street, learning more about the people, losing sight of where she was and dealing with hostilities Neyrs she learned many new lessons in life. A chance encounter with a magician named Rainer would change this greatly for her. But, another friend whose husband is in the service finds herself dealing with a tenuous situation but can it be solved and will she decide on a different route? The story flashes to Mair and her concern for Lotus. But, she was on a quest and when she enlisted the help of a young Muslim she begins by telling him her story and then he relates the history of Srinagar and more about Kashmir. But, tragedy strikes as Mair prepares to meet someone that might just connect the dots to her past. The past becomes the present as we flash back again and learn more about Neyrs. During her time away and after meeting Myrtle she learned much about men and women and she began to understand an entirely different way of life. When with Rainer she came alive what about Evan? Learning more about Caroline Bowen who comes into light in the present we learn about her indiscretions as we meet her in the present along with Mair. Her life changed and her feelings for one man were turned to another as Nyers came alive. A powerful novel that spans many different time periods and war that would change the complexion of so many lives. Two women caught in a web of their own. One finding freedom and the other finding her past. As Mair talks about Karen and Bruno and their lives dome together again. Both women traveling to Leh and both pasts coming to the present. Then Evan returns and he life was no longer the same just what will she do? But, there is another story that of Caroline, her infidelity and the beautiful child that so many others helped her care for keeping her secret when her husband returned form war. Ravi, Ralph, Archie, Evan and so many others caught up in the times and so many women torn between two different worlds. Lies, deceit, betrayals and much more encompass the world of so many. Ravi turns on someone that cares about him and secrets that some hope will never be revealed. We move to 1945 and the end of the war and Nerys and Rainer. Even though her life remained the same in some aspects it did changed in others as her relationship with Rainer continued but in a different way. When all of the threads of the shawl fit together you won’t believe where the final pieces wind up. As Mair brings the shawl where it really belongs we learn more about the fate of so many. Just where did Rainer wind up and did he desert her? What about Prita and what about Zahra when she learns the truth? The past comes full circle in the present as both Bruno and Mair face end together and the final revelations will keep the reader glued to the printed page to find out just why this Kashmir Shawl was so precious. A story told in the voices of both Mair and Nerys with the lives of others intertwined. An ending that will surprise you and a young woman whose past finally just might become her present. For Mair some things just might never change and the folds of the shawl when unwrapped tell an amazing story.Fran Lewis: Reviewer

  • LindyLouMac
    2019-01-24 05:42

    I have been a fan of Rosie Thomas for many years and have always loved her intricately weaved stories, always so well researched. The Kashmir Shawl was no exception and my full review will follow soon. I read this for my Bookclub.

  • Susanchitter
    2019-01-25 23:42

    3.5 The author is a great storyteller. Mair Ellis finds a Kashmir shawl and a lock of hair amongst her grandparents' affects. She decides to go to India to follow the trail of these items to see what she can learn about her Grandmother, Nerys Watkins. Nerys had gone with her missionary husband to India just before WWII but no one knew her story. Her story is a fascinating one about love, friendship and magical places.

  • Becky
    2019-01-27 04:57

    The Kashmir Shawl by Rosie ThomasI loved this book. The writing is gorgeous. I found myself rereading passages to savor the words. That is, until I got caught up in the story! Now I am planning to reread the book so I can appreciate the writing skill that is so evident. The characters are real. The conversations are real. The situations the characters find themselves in are real. The only flaw (if it is a flaw) is that all of the ends are tied up so neatly – especially Farida and Zahra – that one was just too pat. The differing marriages that are explored would make a great topic for book groups – what makes a marriage or fail, what is a failed marriage, how are marriages different, what forces do family and culture play on marriage, who is responsible for making a marriage work, etc.I learned a lot about India that changed my perspective on the current situation with China, Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. I also enjoyed learning a bit about World War II and British India.There were times when I would have appreciated a glossary of the Indian terms and occasions used in the book. I wondered what “afternoon bread” was and how it differed from other breads. A map would have been helpful – I printed one off the Internet, but, of course, not all of the places mentioned were on any one map and trying to overlay them just didn’t work.I would strongly recommend this book to book groups that are interested in family issues, history, ethnic culture, mystery and just great writing. I could not decide if this was “women’s” fiction, historical fiction, romance, and finally decided literary fiction was the most accurate. I have a pashima from my daughter’s two and a half years living in Kazakhstan – of course not nearly as elegant or beautiful as Nerys’ - but even with only two colors, the design woven in fine wool threads on my shawl, is different on the two sides so I can appreciate the intricacy of the “Kashmir Shawl” described in the book.

  • Jenni
    2019-02-02 05:47

    I’ve read a few of Rosie Thomas’ books and always enjoyed them. When I heard that her new book had some Welsh involvement I was pretty confidant that I’d enjoy this one too and I was right.There are two key plot lines within the book, there is the story of Mair who is trying to trace her grandparents’ story and discover where this beautiful shawl came from, and there is the story of her grandparents, Nerys and Evan Watkins, and their time in India as missionaries. The narrative moves back and forward between these two plotlines fairly seamlessly, I quite often find that when there are two plotlines in this way there is one that I’m more interested in – I couldn’t pick a favourite out of these two.I really liked the character of Mair, she developed so much throughout the book. I found her struggle with her identity interesting to read, and the slow realisation of who she was and where she belonged worked well for me. I loved that she was quite unconventional, the fact she did actually run off and join the circus as a teenager made me take to her instantly.The group of ladies, from the historical sections of the book were all wonderful, particularly Nerys. I loved the way they balanced each other out, and gave a real insight into life for British women in Kashmir at the time. For me the way that they were all developed was one of the real strengths of the book.Wales doesn’t appear that much in the book, but when it did it felt very genuine and made me feel all warm and comfy. The descriptions of Kashmir were really well done, I felt like I was transported both geographically and historically. This is one of the reasons I love fiction set in other times and / or places – I love the opportunity to travel via a book.I really enjoyed this book, I’ve seen other reviews suggesting it was a little long but I loved the fact I could fall head first into it and get completely lost in it. This book definitely gets the thumbs up from me.

  • Adite
    2019-01-30 08:09

    The Kashmir Shawl is an intricately woven story much like the eponymous garment. The threads of stories set in different times and locations, the texture and craftsmanship of storytelling make for a mesmerising broad canvas story. The highlights of the book include the manner in which the author skilfully skims from modern day Wales and Kashmir to colonial India of 1940s without missing a beat. After Mair's father dies, she finds a beautiful Kashmiri shawl and a lock of hair tucked away in their ancestral home which is now up for sale. The items belonged to her great grandmother Nerys who along with her missionary husband had spent considerable time in India. Restless and at a loose end in her life, Mair is intrigued enough by her find, and embarks on a journey in a quest to find out more about the shawl and Nerys' time in India. The bulk of the story is about Nerys and the friendship that she forges with two other "Raj wives" - Myrtle and Caroline. The plotline involving Nerys' story is engaging and keeps you turning the pages to discover the mystery about the shawl and what happens to Myrtle, Nerys and Caroline. The characters (particularly those of the British Raj wives) were interesting and colourful, though I found it a bit of a stretch to imagine that a missionary's wife would actually indulge in the kind adulterous relationship that is portrayed in the story. Particularly heartwrenching is Caroline's story and yet there were portions of this character's development (and plotline) that seemed implausible.Most annoying, in my view, were the throwaway references to the trouble in modern day Kashmir. Those had no place in this book and seemed as if they were added to exotic-ize the modern storyline which was at best sketchy. Lastly, the book needed to be edited better as the author seemed to have got carried away with her research of shawl-making.

  • Lianna
    2019-02-05 23:49

    Two different stories about two women, a grandmother and one of her granddaughters.The book starts in the present when the granddaughter, after her father's death, finds an exceptionally beautiful scarf, that once belonged to her grandmother. Not knowing the origin of the scarf other than from India, nor recognizing two of the three ladies on her grandmother's photograph plus her questions about the origin of a lock of hair, Mair decides to travel to India to find out about her grandmother's life in India and, of course, why she had the Kashmir scarf.1941 As a missionary wife the grandmother, Nerys, travels from Wales to pre-war India to work alongside Evan, her missionary husband. Her life and her relationships during those India years are beautifully described by Rosie Thomas.Nerys' story flows and is engaging; it also makes sense whilst Mair's story, I found, was contrived, superficial and incredible.It was almost as if the book was written by two different authors: one accomplished and the other author on a Mills and Boon contract.Every time the story changed from Nery's life to Mair's I found myself putting the book down as I had other, more pressing things to do.I also found that the book contained an enormous amount of interesting facts about India in general and during the time of separation. Obviously Ms Thomas has done a lot of research without overwhelming us with facts.Although this book did not do it for me, I will most certainly try another title by Rosie Thomas as I don't think that one should make a decision based on one title alone.

  • Roxanne Cole
    2019-02-14 07:44

    This book is really, really good; one of the best I have read. It is follows the story of a shawl picked up in Kashmir by the wife of a Welsh missionary during the second world war. The second story line is that of her granddaughter who never knew her travelling to Kashmir after the death of her father to find out more and to get away from things because financially she is able to. It is incredibly addictive and the way that the stories are joined together and the connections between the characters; very clever. I have two "weaknesses" about this book:1. The grenade scene I found too "stuck in to make a point". It did not flow and seemed to have no baring to anything else.2. The rabid dog scene after aftermath; once again I feel it was "stuck in to make a point". Any westerner be safe from rabies as if travelling to India long-term to remote places you would have the vaccination. And you would definitely vaccinate a child. It felt very false and unbelievable.Apart from this; the characters are so real and believable. An addictive read.

  • Parita
    2019-02-17 23:47

    Starting with the discovery of a Kashmir shawl in her childhood home in Wales, Mair embarks on a journey to discover the past of her late grandmother, Nerys to learn about hidden family secrets, and solving a puzzle that had become stagnant in time. Spaning decades and international boundries, this tsory flows through the fun filled Raj days in India, the war crisis in 1945 and post war changes in lives of people who were at home away from home, the missionaries and Raj employees in India. This is a story of frendship, love, loss, trust, betrayal and loyalty. Starting subtly, Thomas creates a story and characters that will quickly absorb you into the tale. Reading her for the first time, I wasnt disappointed at fact, quite to the contrary, I very much enjoyed it. I was looking forward to read this book and I am glad that I did. Thomas writes of an era gone by with such skill and passion that the words transport you straight into her litrary world. After this one, I am looking forward to reading more of her books.

  • Anne
    2019-01-22 02:05

    An amazing book, takes a while to get into, with a long complicated plot, and two narrators, Mair Ellis and her grandmother, Nerys Watkins. Mair has been clearing her father's house, following his death and finds a beautiful antique shawl, with a lock of child's hair. A mystery unfolds, as Mair travels to India, to trace her grandparents' roots. Along the way the story gradually unfolds, this is a very emotional journey, for Mair herself and the story of her grandmother and several of her close female friends. There is tragedy, heartbreak, love and loss and I felt rather sad when I finally finished reading because I had become so involved with the various characters.A beautifully written book with very realistic characters, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will read it again. I can recommend this as an excellent and engaging read and will be looking for more books by Rosie Thomas.

  • Cardmaker
    2019-02-04 05:56

    Great story! The timeline moved between war torn India and present day Wales and India. While clearing out her parents' home after her father's death, Mair (rhymes with fire) Ellis finds a beautiful woven shawl and, wrapped within it, a lock of hair. She knows it came from India from her grandmother whose husband was a missionary there during the war. She decides to travel to India to see if she can find out where the shawl came from and whose lock of hair is with it.The biggest part of the book tells her grandmother's story and I found that very interesting. Mair's story is also there but takes up a much smaller part. It's also interesting. During the reading, we find out what Mair is searching for so we know the entire story even though she doesn't. It's a complicated story that involves several people and I enjoyed it very much.

  • Sue
    2019-02-17 03:41

    Read for a book club, this was a fine book with a great setting and I liked it, but didn't love it. It took a long time to get going, there was so much foreshadowing that I wasn't much surprised by any of the reveals, and there was a long winding up section at the end. That said, the premise was interesting, where a modern Welsh girl finds a mysterious shawl belonging to her long-deceased grandmother while cleaning out her recently deceased father's home. As she begins to trace the provenance of the shawl and her own family history she learns much about herself. The story goes back and forth between the modern woman's search and the grandmother's own story which was much more interesting. The historical research was impeccable, but sometimes got in the way of the narrative as the author added a lot about modern politics in Kashmir. Overall, a fine read but a little too long.

  • Vickstar
    2019-02-09 05:00

    It was OK. I didn't hate it but it was disappointing. I do enjoy a light romance or mystery every now and again, especially one with an interesting historical setting and I imagine that's what prompted me to pick this book up (it's been in my to-be-read folder for so long I can't remember buying it - maybe a daily deal?). This book fits the category of a romance where the author has done a lot of research about a particular place or historical way of life (Kashmir, shawl-making) to provide the background and I did enjoy reading about Kashmir during the second world war and learning about pashmina's and the process of shawl-making. Ultimately though I wasn't gripped by the plot, the characters or the writing; it felt to me like a lot of drama with no substance. The only strength was in the descriptive historical setting.