The Kashmir Shawl is a completely wonderful novel. You will be completely transported to another time and place, utterly swept up in the story, which combines the modern tale of Mair Ellis, an independent and adventurous Welsh woman, and that of her remarkable grandmother, Nerys Watkins, who was the brave and unconventional wife of a missionary in India during and just after World War II.
The story has great romance and deep sorrow, intrigue and danger, and a richly detailed sense of time and place. It captures the exotic allure as well as the danger, despair and hardship of India during World War II and the end of the Colonial era and the less alluring but equally dangerous India of today.
At its core, the story is a celebration of three remarkable women and their deep friendship for each other. The way that the women support and protect each other during separation from their husbands, potential scandal, and very real danger is the most satisfying element of the story, although the development of the equally deep love of Nerys and her dear friend, mountaineer and magician Rainer Stamm, a love that in no way diminishes her devotion to her shy and driven missionary husband, is very touching as well.
But the modern story of Mair and her own journey to discover not only the history of her grandmother’s shawl and through it,part of her own amazing family history as well as her own destiny is nearly as intriguing. Together the stories weave a design as fine as that of the shawl itself.
This book will make you cry. It will thrill you and shake you and ultimately satisfy you. Most of all it will make you care about these characters so that by the end of the book you will feel that they are old and dear friends and you will be grateful to Rosie Thomas for having let you make their acquaintance.
This book gets my highest recommendation. I believe you will find it as hard to put down as I did. Ms. Thomas is a master storyteller.