This novel has an average rating from my local library readers, but I found it a fascinating insight into the Valois dynasty seen through the eyes of Marguerite de Valois during the 16th century. Although King Charles heads the French dynasty, his mother, Catherine de Medicis, is the one who makes all the political decisions. Her schemes to maintain and increase her family’s rule include marrying her off to any man if it will increase the family’s power. The Queen’s desire to maintain a stronghold on its kingdom culminates in the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre when thousands of Huguenot are slaughtered.
Will Margurerite realize what kind of a person her mother really is, and overcome her desire to please her?
In 1950s England, Lewis’s mother drinks a bottle of wine, and drowns while out on a picnic with her son. Because of his failure to save his mother, Lewis’s response to his guilt becomes unruly and he lands in jail. On his release, he discovers the past is ever present within both his remaining family and his village community that no longer trust him.
After Lakshmi runs away from her abusive husband, she begins work as a henna artist in 1950s Jaipur. For years she struggles to survive, and gradually develops a reputation as the city’s best henna artist. But then her bedraggled husband arrives with her sister, Radha whom she has never known existed. She struggles to develop a bond with orphaned Radha, and to rid herself of a husband who demands money. Will he give her the divorce she wants, and will she be able to survive her mounting debts?
After Anne and Serey, a Cambodian refugee, meet in a Montreal jazz club, they are drawn to each other. But when Pol Pot’s reign of terror ends, Serey is compelled to return to Cambodia to find his family. When he doesn’t return, Anne follows and soon learns the depths of the tragedy and its after effects on the survivors.