My interest in the work of Dinah Jefferies began after reading ‘The Tea Planter’s Wife.’
On my first visit to the library following lockdown, my eye was drawn to the exotic book cover of Before The Rains written by Dinah Jefferies. Without hesitation, I chose the book in the full knowledge that this would be a great read.
I was not disappointed.
From the first chapter, I was transported to 1912 India. I could almost see the vibrant colours and smell the aromas of India. I loved how she built up an image of the exotic beauty of the palaces and the contrast with rural locations.
The reader gets more from this story than the heart-wrenching tale of love against the norms and traditions of society. The protagonist Eliza is a determined young British woman who carries with her a lot of emotional baggage which has its roots in India where she witnessed the murder of her father during political unrest. When the British Government send her to India as the official photographer to the royal family, she is determined to be successful and make a name for herself.
However, not all members of the Royal household are pleased to have her at the palace. Filled with secrets, intrigue, underhand behaviour and romance, the palace even with all of its exquisite beauty becomes a dangerous place.
Added to this is the relationship between members of the royal family and the injustice of British rule which is responsible in part for the poverty of the people.
On her arrival at the palace, Eliza meets Jay the handsome brother of the prince who is more interested in the lavish lifestyle his position brings him than his interest in his role as the Maharajah.
Jay, however, is cut from a different cloth and when Eliza awakens him to the poverty of his people and introduces him to the idea of providing water to help irrigate the lands around his palace, they begin a forbidden romance full of passion.
Eventually, they have to choose between what society expects and what their hearts tell them.
The descriptions of this amazing country and the way Dinah Jefferies has brought them to life has reinforced my desire to one-day travel to India and witness these sights for myself.