In The Mirror, A Peacock Danced by Justine Bothwick – Blog Tour Review

About The Book

Set against the lush backdrop of early 20th century India, In the Mirror, a Peacock Danced is the moving story of one woman’s journey back to herself.

Agra, 1938: Eighteen-year-old Florence Hunt has grown up riding horses past the Taj Mahal and chasing peacocks through her backyard under the critical gaze of her father. Increasingly enamoured with his work on the booming railway, Florence yearns to know more, but finds herself brushed away, encouraged only to perform the more ladylike hobbies of singing and entertaining guests. So when a dazzling young engineer walks into her life, she finds herself not only gripped by secret lessons in physics but swept entirely off her feet.

Portsmouth, 1953: Fifteen years later, Florence finds herself pregnant and alone in post-war England – a far cry from her sun-drenched existence in India. Struggling to cope with the bleakness of everyday life in a male-dominated world, Florence is desperate to find the woman she used to be. But when someone from her past reaches out, Florence might just have a chance to start over.

Soaring from the shimmering heights of the big top to the depths of heartbreak, can Florence find the happiness, independence, and passion she once had in order to start living again?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. In The Mirror, A Peacock Danced is a  historical novel that only covers a short period in time, between 1938 and 1953. It is however a very important time in India, where much of this novel takes place. During that time India gained independence from England and there was also the partition from Pakistan. I have read about both before but never anything that shows the level of anger, fear and worry from all affected. 

Florence lives with her widowed father in Agra. She loves her life, apart from her father trying to live his dream of being an entertainer through her. Her passion is engineering, but with attitudes to women at the time she is discouraged. I have to admit that the engineering terminology went way over my head but thankfully they are only a small part of this novel. Instead we got to know Florence, her friends, her family and witness her unhappy marriages. 

I found it fascinating that Florence had more freedom in India than she did in England. I thought she was listened to more, less patronised and was a lot happier. She didn’t want to be sent to a finishing school and married off. She wanted to be in a country with people she loved. Her relationship with Sita and Ravi was one that meant a lot to her, probably more than the one she had with her father. 

I found this novel to be original and an extremely accurate account of an important time in history. Different to many that are set at the same time, the war only plays a small part, but when it did it highlighted the differences in attitude to the English armies compared to the Indian. It was hardly surprising that it caused a lot of upset.

I would definitely be interested in reading more by this author and also more about Indian history.

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