Following my post with some short reviews of The White Rajah, I thought I'd post some of the comments about Cawnpore. Most of the reviews are quite long, so I'm just putting some excerpts. Do you think any of you can come up with a comment about the book in less than 50 words?
Evocative and haunting. I couldn't put this book down. Not only is it a solid account of the tragic events at Cawnpore, it's a rattling good adventure and a gentle, understated love story. It's one I'll return to.
In short, this is a fine work of historical fiction, faithful to the events but able to reveal far more about them through the interpolation of self reflective fictional characters.
This is a very well presented book; I can find no errors. The author has researched this subject well and obviously has a fondness for this era of history. For anyone who has a love for this period, Cawnpore is probably one for you.
– Historical Novel Society
Overall, I found the story compelling and a surprisingly easy read given the difficult and multi-faceted subject matter. The author expertly dissects and lays out the intricacies of the complex interactions between the British Raj and East India Company with the locals; the simmeCaring tensions between them are well written as the convoluted social-polical structures of the Local Muslim / Hindu populations with the religious differences; the caste system and the contentious doctrine of lapse are well construed.
And, from a blog posting I saw only this morning:
The very best historical fiction involves you in its characters' stories whilst teaching you about the historical background in a non lecturing way. Cawnpore does exactly that. I knew very little about the Indian Mutiny and had not even heard of the siege at Cawnpore so I have learned something while enjoying the story. The narrator, John Williamson is in a unique position to see the conflict from both sides. This is done very cleverly by the author and the narrative had me hooked from the very first page. The character of the narrator comes through very strongly. He is every inch the formal Englishman and he writes in a very formal unsentimental way, yet we still see the strength of his feelings and the inner turmoil as he is forced to decide where his loyalties lie. There are no flowery descriptive passages, but the scene is set skilfully. As you can probably tell, I really enjoyed this novel. Highly recommended.