7 December 2009

Book Review: Eastern Promise by Jessica Fox

Priya Gupta is a bit cynical when it comes to matters relating to love and fate. So when at her best friends hen night Priya is told she has to see a clairvoyant, she's not happy and is determined not to believe anything that the pyschic tells her. Strangely though, Priya comes away with just one message: "In matters of love, mother knows best". Priya doesn't believe a word, and carries on with her life.

Priya's sister Neesh is getting married and is making a big song and dance about it too. The Gupta family are about to return to India for the wedding of the century, and Priya is going to keep working throughout. At the Ashram, Priya meets Noah and finds herself attracted to him. As well as finding out what is exactly is going on at the Ashram, Priya has to contend with her new feelings for Noah and her sisters wedding. Is it going to be proven that her mother knows best after all?

This book is the second of Jessica Fox's The Hen Night Prophecies series. The first book is called The One That Got Away but they are all stand alone stories so not something you will have to read in succession. In fact, I was surprised at the lack of mention of other characters at the hen night throughout the book - they appear at the beginning for the scene with the clairvoyant, but then the book moves into the life of Priya and we don't hear another word about the Hens or the hen night except for a brief  mention at Priya's party. I was pleased about this because obviously I was starting at the second book, not the first but still I was surprised at the lack of story with the hens.

What I did like about the book was the progression of the story and the writing. I found it incredibly easy to get into the story, and I liked the character of Priya straight away. She is quite a straight-laced character, not particularly endearing but she led the story very well and I could empathise with her plight about a pushy family! Fox manages to bring in the importance of Indian beliefs and the respect of their family into the book very well, and I could understand the feeling of Priya and that of her family as well. Clearly Fox has done her research into the Indian culture and everything related, and it comes across as such in the book.

The other characters are extremely well written. I liked Priya's sister Neesh - her role model appears to be Jordan (not necessarily a good thing!) but she worked well with Priya because of how different they are. Neesh provides a bit of the comic relief in the book, she's a complete bimbo but she's funny with it and she was a great addition. Priya's parents were quite traditional Indian characters, with high expectations for their daughters and while it was frustrating for Priya, you could see it from their point of view too and I think Fox did a good job in allowing the reader to sympathise with both sides. Noah was another great character, I was convinced there was something funny about him throughout the book but wasn't sure what and that's because of Fox's good writing.

I really enjoyed the descriptive writing throughout the book. Fox describes the Ashram that Priya and her film crew go to visit so well that you can visualise it in your head clearly, and its a lovely book to sit down and escape with. You can imagine the heat, the beautiful flowers, the mountain views and the silence so well because Fox's writing is incredibly vivid and perfectly pictures everything through her words. She brings alive the Indian culture and the city of Jaiphur as well, I loved every second of her descriptions of these places and it made the book that much more enjoyable for me.

Little Black Dress books can sometimes be a bit hit and miss for me, but this one was definitely one of the better ones. I really enjoyed Jessica Fox's style of writing, and the story was good enough to keep me going until the end as well. I loved the journey that the book took through India, and it was fascinating to read about all of the different cultures and expectations on the different characters throughout. I am now curious to go back and read the first book to see what happened to the first character in the book, and I will definitely be looking out for the 3rd, 4th and 5th books in the series too. If you enjoy a really interesting story with a few love interests thrown in along the way, then read a copy of Eastern Promise. The pink girlie cover will pull you in, so just let it! Recommended.

Rating: 4/5

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