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Donna Fletcher Crow

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Donna Fletcher Crow (US) is the author of forty-some books, mostly novels dealing with the history of British Christianity. She is the author of The Monastery Murders series; The Lord Danvers Victorian True-Crime series; The Elizabeth & Richard literary mysteries, GLASTONBURY,A Novel of the Holy Grail and more. www.donnafletchercrow.com

Fay Sampson

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Fay Sampson (UK) is a writer of adult and children's fiction and non-fiction, including A MALIGNANT HOUSE, #2 in the Susie Fewings series, a British Crime Club Pick. http://www.faysampson.co.uk

THE BRITISH RAJ, AS EXCITING AS THE WILD, WILD WEST

By Donna Fletcher Crow ~ November 6, 2015

 My guest today is Christine Lindsay whose Twilight of the British Raj series has given me many pleasant hours of reading as it brought back memories of such great television viewing as "The Jewel in the Crown" and "The Last Viceroy" and more recently "Indian Summers."  It seems, however, that not all of Christine's potential readers take to the subject as naturally as I do. Tell us more, Christine.

                                                     As a writer born in Great Britain it always frosts me when my American friends just don’t get as excited about the British Raj of India as I do. While watching the TV series “Indian Summers”, I keep trying to convince my US friends that for us Brits, the Raj is as exciting and adventurous as the Wild West is to them. 

For example, while writing the finale to my historical trilogy Twilight of the British Raj, my research on Lord Louis Mountbatten, the last Viceroy to Colonial India, swept me away. As any self-respecting Brit knows, Lord Mountbatten was a great favorite of the Royal Family, especially of his niece—Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. 

I did tons of research for my trilogy, and here is an excerpt from Book 3 Veiled at Midnight, as seen through the eyes of my fictional character Captain Cam Fraser, when Lord Mountbatten is sworn in as the last Viceroy.

 

                                                 

                                                         ~*~

A signal from the head Aide-de-Camp let Cam know that the Viceroy and his wife had arrived, and waited outside the closed bronze doors.

Inside the palace, the marble Durbar Hall echoed with the buzz of hundreds of hushed human voices. British in impeccable suits, dignitaries from around the world, Sikh leaders in European suits with silk turbans, Indians in Rajput coats, Gandhi hats, Muslim prayer caps, all seated on plush velvet and gilded chairs. Gandhi was not in attendance, being unwilling to leave Calcutta where his presence kept some peace. As for the rest, whatever their religion they all seemed to hold their breath, waiting for the man they hoped, they prayed, would guide India to self-government without them tearing themselves apart.

 From the top of the roof outside the palace, came the shattering blare of trumpets.

The doors of the Durbar Hall opened and the tall, elegant form of Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma began to walk up the carpeted aisle, his wife at his side. Cam’s throat closed with pride. The last Viceroy, wearing his dress naval whites, his dark blue ribbon designating him as a Knight of the Garter, and his array of orders and decorations covering his chest was something, someone, to be proud of. Nehru himself had requested Mountbatten for his diplomacy and personal knowledge of India.

Lady Mountbatten matched her husband’s stride, in her long simple gown of white silk. She wore a tiara and a ribbon crossed from shoulder to waist that held the New Order of the Crown of India, and her own array of medals earned during the war for her humanitarian work.

The two walked side by side up the aisle toward the gilded thrones waiting on a low dais. Behind the thrones, rich red hangings hid lighting that cast the hall in superb dignity. This was British India. The country Cam called home. Not that small green island—England—thousands of miles to the north, but this massive dusty, vibrant mosaic of a subcontinent.

~*~

While researching the last novel in this trilogy my imagination was captured and held by Lady Mountbatten. Edwina, an English heiress, a socialite, this woman of dubious moral fiber, started her married life wasting years in frivolity and a long string of lovers. It wasn’t until WW2 that she started making her mark on the world with humanitarian aid. For that, I came to hold her in high regard.  

Lady Mountbatten worked tirelessly for St. John’s Ambulance and the Red Cross. In Book 3 Veiled at Midnight I focus on the charitable work she did during the traumatic Partition of India in 1947. 

Here is a short excerpt from Veiled at Midnight featuring Lady Mountbatten in a fictionalized account inspired by the thousands of true-life visits she made to Indian villages for humanitarian aid. This excerpt is again seen through the eyes of my character Captain Cam Fraser.

~*~

In conjunction with her husband, Lady Mountbatten began to issue sharp orders as she conferredwith local civil servants. Standing in the midst of the charred remains of this village, she arranged for medical help for those few who had escaped the slaughter, and though terribly wounded, still breathed. Food would be flown in, outdoor kitchens set up to feed the multitudes of displaced people trickling in from other villages.

While it was true that in only one month the new Viceroy had done what previous Viceroys hadbeen unable to do—break the deadlock between the two main political parties—Partition, now with a capital P was becoming a reality. Bloodshed in the north had escalated to a pitch Cam had seen only in war. The word Pakistan was slashed in green paint on the doors of houses of unearthly quiet towns with its lives and voices snuffed out.

Like the mother and child half buried beneath that pile of blackened bricks two feet away from Cam. A few clay toys strewn around, close to the child’s hand where her rag doll lay filthy in the ashes.

That image, not the sun bearing down on Cam’s cap, brought a wave of sickness. Dassah, his own beautiful wife could be in any small town like this. He could only pray with heat-scorched breath that she was safe in some quiet backwater, if there was such a thing in India these days. Or that she wore a cross around her neck. Some said that pretending to be a Christian might save an Indian’s life right now. Dear God, let that be true. But then, the religious minorities were being pushed aside by the greater swell of hatred between the Muslims and the Hindus. With only a year to go, everyone worried what side of the new borders their town or city would lie. What will Pakistan look like? What will be the shape of India when all is said and done?

Lady Mountbatten picked her way through the rubble beside her husband and their entourage of ADC’s, bodyguards, soldiers, the governor of the province, and various military and political personnel. Ahead of Cam, the Mountbattens were doing what they could for this town. Refugee camps were springing up everywhere you looked…camps already with thousands…staring with wild eyes…as if the world was coming to an end.  

~*~

The historical trilogy Twilight of the British Raj has won the following awards, ACFW Genesis, The Grace Award, The Word Guild Award, and was a finalist twice in Readers’ Favorite.

 

Book 1 SHADOWED IN SILK After the Great War Abby Fraser returns to India with her small son, but her soldier husband Nick has become a cruel stranger. Major Geoff Richards, broken over the loss of so many of his men in France finds himself helpless to protect Abby and her child from the husband who mistreats them. Amid political unrest, inhospitable deserts, and Russian spies, Geoff and Abby, caught between their own ideals and duty, stumble into sinister secrets that thrust them into the fires of revolution. 

 

Book 2 CAPTURED BY MOONLIGHTAfter the rescue of a child sex slave goes awry, Nurse Laine Harkness and her friend Eshana flee to the tropical south of India. Laine takes a nursing position at a jungle plantation only to discover that her former fiancé is the owner. Eshana, captured by her traditional uncle, forced once more into the harsh Hindu customs of mourning, doubts freedom will ever be hers again, much less the forbidden love for Dr. Jai Kaur, a man of another faith. Amid cyclones and epidemics, these women find themselves captured by their respective pasts. 

 

 

 

  

Book 3 VEILED AT MIDNIGHTCaught up in the explosive and passionate wake of Britain’s relinquishment of India, is Captain Cam Fraser, his sister Miriam, and the beautiful Indian Dassah. Cam has never been able to put Dassah from his mind, but a British officer and the aide to the last viceroy cannot marry a poor Indian woman, can he? As for Dassah, she has no option but to run. Cam may hold her heart, but she cannot let him break it again. Miriam rails against the separation of the land of her birth, but is Lieutenant Colonel Jack Sunderland her soulmate or a distraction from her calling as a college professor to young Indian women in the newly birthed Pakistan? 

READ FOR FREE THE FIRST CHAPTERS OF ALL 3 BOOKS IN THIS TRILOGY.

CLICK HERE FOR FIRST CHAPTER OF BOOK 1 SHADOWED IN SILK

CLICK HERE FIRST TWO CHAPTERS OF BOOK 2 CAPTURED BY MOONLIGHT

CLICK HERE FOR FIRST TWO CHAPTERS OF BOOK 3 VEILED AT MIDNIGHT

 

PURCHASE LINKS FOR Christine Lindsay’s novels:

SHADOWED IN SILK Amazon

SHADOWED IN SILK Barnes & Noble

SHADOWED IN SILK Christian Books.com

 

CAPTURED BY MOONLIGHT Amazon

CAPTURED BY MOONLIGHT Barnes & Noble

CAPTURED BY MOONLIGHT Christian Books.com

 

VEILED AT MIDNIGHT Amazon

VEILED AT MIDNIGHT Barnes & Noble

VEILED AT MIDNIGHT Christian Books.com

 

LONDONDERRY DREAMING Amazon

LONDONDERRY DREAMING

LONDONDERRY DREAMING Christian Books.com

 

ABOUT CHRISTINE LINDSAY:

Christine Lindsay was born in N. Ireland, and is proud of the fact that she was once patted on the head by Prince Philip when she was a baby. Stories of Christine’s ancestors who served in the British Cavalry in Colonial India inspired her multi-award-winning historical series Twilight of the British Raj. 

A busy writer, speaker, and writing coach, Christine makes her home on the west coast of Canada with her husband and their grown up family. Her cat Scottie is chief editor on all Christine’s books.

CONNECT WITH CHRISTINE:

Please drop by Christine’s website http://www.christinelindsay.com/ or follow her on Twitter and be her friend on Pinterest , “Like” her Facebook page, and  Goodreads.

 

Donna Fletcher Crow (US) is the author of forty-some books, mostly novels dealing with the history of British Christianity. She is the author of The Monastery Murders series; The Lord Danvers Victorian True-Crime series; The Elizabeth & Richard literary mysteries, GLASTONBURY,A Novel of the Holy Grail and more. www.donnafletchercrow.com

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Reader Comments:

Christine, thank you so much for your delightful guest post. I have loved these books and having actual news photographs to go with them is a real help to "being there."
-Donna, November 7, 2015

Thank you for having me as a guest, Donna. It's a real joy to share my love of all things British in this series in particular.
-Christine Lindsay, November 7, 2015

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