The Kashmir Shawl: A Novel

The Kashmir Shawl: A Novel

by Rosie Thomas


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By the time she is reunited with her husband, she is a very different woman. Years later, Nerys’s granddaughter Mair Ellis clears out her dead father’s house and finds an exquisite shawl. Wrapped in its folds is a lock of a child’s curly hair. With nothing else to go on, Mair decides to trace her grandparents’ roots back to Kashmir, embarking on a quest thatwill change her own life forever. A sweeping multigenerational tale of marriage, isolation, and finding love in a magical place, The Kashmir Shawl is the inimitable Rosie Thomas at her very best.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781468308020
Publisher: The Overlook Press
Publication date: 09/03/2013
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 480
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Rosie Thomas is the author of numerous critically acclaimed, bestselling novels, and has twice won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award. Born in a small village in northern Wales, Thomas discovered a love of traveling and mountaineering when her children were grown. In the years since, she has climbed in the Alps and the Himalayas, competed in the Peking to Paris car rally, and trekked in the footsteps of Shackleton on South Georgia Island.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Thomas's novels are beautifully written." --Marie Claire

 "A master storyteller." --Cosmopolitan

 "Rosie Thomas writes with beautiful, effortless prose, and shows a rare compassion and a real understanding of the nature of love."  --The Times

Customer Reviews

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The Kashmir Shawl 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 88 reviews.
MaureenST More than 1 year ago
What a story Rosie Thomas was written, she had me walking with the Characters through the streets in India. I could almost smell the goats, as was described. We experience the life with the Raj, and the slums. The story begins with the death of her father, Mair finds a beautiful Kashmir Shawl among the belongings. She also finds an old envelope with some hair stored in it. Thus begins her quest for answers, and her trip to India. There are actually two stories told here, some of it we know but Mair never has all the answers. Mair's Grandmother Nerys and Grandfather Evan are missionaries to India, with WWII going on in 1941, we are about to experience life there. Nerys spends time with Myrtle, and Carolyn, you will enjoy the fun times they make out adversity. I really recommend this as a Historical read, so very interesting. Even when Mair goes there, there is fighting between the Hindu's and the Muslims. So very sad. Putting this combined story together is a real page turner, and even though the book is a bit long, it was a quick read. I received this book through The Bookreporter giveaway, and was not required to give a positive review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is wonderfully written. It makes you feel what it was to live in India in those times. We sadly see the changes happening in Srinagar after the war. The characters are full of life and live every moment intensely. A great story. Hard to put the book down. I loved it and I recommend it to all historical fiction lovers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story did not have an ending and took me a while to get into the story, probably after chapter 4 it became interesting. Many things remained a mystery. If you like the books that leave a lot for imagination, then you should read it, if not don't even start. The book tells few stories. The main story is about Mair trying to find an "owner" of the beautiful shawl and a lock of hair that she found among the belongings of her father after his death. She did find the "owner" but the "owner" was not convinced that these belong to her. A lot is left for the readers to complete. The rest of the little stories in the book all remained a mystery. Did Mair and her new love become a couple? Did Nerys's love, Rainer actually die? The book is not as good as heard from some people.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I have read lately. Rich in historical and setting beauty. Loved it.
Florida-Chick More than 1 year ago
What a treasure! I loved this book. Then and now threads were beautifully woven to create a masterpiece. The generational back and forth was not hard to follow....I found myself looking forward to it, and how it all came together at the end. Remarkable writing. Definitely recommend this book and look forward to her new book coming out in the fall.
Sophronia More than 1 year ago
Interesting cultural detail for the two timelines. The story held my interest from the beginning. Author did not hurry to the "next big thing." Plot twists naturally, with many surprises. I look forward to the next book by this author.
booklovercm More than 1 year ago
Let me say first of all that by the time I got to the end of this book, I was totally engrossed. There were times, particularly in the first several chapters, that I was annoyed at the skipping back and forth of time periods. It finally became very clear, that this was necessary for the plot to come together. There is intrigue, romance, curiosity, history and geography all coming together to tell this multi-generational story. I gave this only 4 instead of 5 stars, because it was rather slow atarting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rosie Thomas has written this story in a way that immediately draws the reader in. Her descriptions of places and characters keep you there. A wonderful tale from beginning to end.
DubaiReader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An historic saga set in Kashmir.It took me a little while to get into this book at first. Some of the descriptions were a bit dense and the swapping of time scales caused some initial confusion. However, once I had become familiar with the characters they started to feel like friends, particularly those from the 1940's time frame.The central 'character' is a very valuable, finely woven and intricately embroidered Kashmiri shawl, found by Mair while clearing out her parents' posessions after her father's death. Mair is between jobs, has inherited some money, and decides to journey to India with the shawl as an excuse - she wants to find out what she can about her grandmother's life as a missionary in India before and during the war.Interspersed between chapters about Mair's current day travels, is a much more interesting journey through the same country with Nerys Watkins and her missionary husband, Evan, and her two close friends, Myrtle McMinn and Caroline Bowen. This was the section that really grabbed me and the characters that stood out.Once Nerys reached Sringar in Kashmir in 1941, she found the days of the Raj in all their glory; houseboats, drinks at The Club and carefree parties. There was intrigue and gossip, excitement and fun, all more than a quiet missionary's wife from rural Wales had ever encountered. Although a little wary of the excesses, she becomes entwined in the life and falls in love with Sringar. A sequence of events ensues that leaves many open ends, and Mair's current day investigations reveal the answers to many unanswered questions - but should she complete the circle and tell those concerned, or keep her peace?A little unbelievable in parts but altogether an interesting, involving read from an excellent author.Also:A Simple Life 5*Every Woman Knows a Secret 4*
nocto on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed this story that intertwines two generations of Welsh women in India. After the death of her father Mair goes to India with her grandmother Nerys' Kashmir shawl to see if she can find out about the shawl and her grandmother's life in Kashmir. Then the story also tells the story of Nerys' time in India as the wife of a missionary. For a little while I thought the stories were going to echo each other too closely but that didn't turn out to be right and I was glad the stories had their own twists and turns. I also had the expectation of a cheesy ending, which I was also happy to find was incorrect and the book had a very decent ending. I'll trust the author next time!
CookieDemon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've read a couple of Thomas' earlier books recently and found them to be somewhat lacking (`Celebration' being the prime example), so I approached this with a bit of trepidation. Happily, Rosie Thomas is definitely back on form with this excellent read which is a charming story of love, loss, war and family secrets.In this well researched book, we meet Mair, one of three children who has recently lost her father (and her mother some years earlier). Whilst clearing out his house ready to sell it, the siblings stumble across a beautiful shawl belonging to her late grandmother and Mair, full of wanderlust, decides to track down its origins- a quest that takes her from her native Wales to northern India. As the story unfolds, we learn about Mair's grandmothers past in 1940's India and her close friendships with two other woman and the secrets they share- as well as the real origins of the Kashmir shawl.Though some bits of this book seemed a little bit predictable, particularly some of the romantic entanglements- that did not detract from my enjoyment of it one little bit. The characters became real as this story was unravelled, particularly Mair and the spunky Myrtle, who I really admired and was a real highlight of the book for me. At a time when some women were perceived as shrinking violets, she really stood out for her bravery and headstrong attitude. Initially I wasn't too fond of Nerys, thinking she was a bit of a wet blanket, but she soon managed to change my mind. All in all, I did find the 1940's timeline to be a bit more intriguing than the present day, given the romantic aspects as well as what was occurring in history during that time, some of the bits with Mair were a little bit slow going at first.It is clear Thomas has really researched into the past which makes this novel wholly believable and compelling. India both past and present is brought vividly to life through its sights, sounds and smells. I have never been to the country but this book has piqued my interest in the region of Srinagar most definitely, in a way Thomas also managed to bring Cairo to life in `Iris and Ruby,' one of her earlier novels which I also loved.Do yourself a favour: if you haven't tried a Rosie Thomas book before, give this one a go. *This review also appears on*
kiwifortyniner on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have read Rosie Thomas before and found her to be a good storyteller. This one concerns a beautiful shawl that Mair finds when she is cleaning up the house after the death of her father. With the shawl is a lock of hair. Mair feels driven to investigate and find out more of the history of the shawl and the life of her grandparents who went from Wales to be missionaries in India. Rosie Thomas deftly weaves together two stories, the story of Mair's grandparents Evan and Nerys, and Mair's story as she travels to India to learn more of the shawl's history and how her grandmother came to possess it. It is a very absorbing read that kept me interested right to the end.
Ariesgrl More than 1 year ago
Mair Ellis’ father has passed away and her brother and sister are helping her clear out the house, when she discovers an exquisite shawl with a bit of hair hidden in the middle. Intrigued by this unique and beautiful item, she begins a journey that takes her back to when her grandparents were first married, during World War II. Traveling alone, she discovers the enchanting life of India. Meanwhile, Nerys Watkins newly wedded bliss, is interrupted by a fascinating livelihood in Kashmir. Her quiet missionary life is now filled with nightlife, festivities and secrets. Will Mair learn the truth about her grandmother’s life, or will the past keep the secrets buried forever? Rosie Thomas provides a lot of details in her writing, which makes the scenery come alive. The chapters are long and the beginning is a bit difficult to get into, but once Nerys’ story begins, readers won’t be able to set this book down. The points-of-view switch between Mair and Nerys, so readers get to feel both sides of the story, as they happen. Readers will appreciate Mair’s growth, as the more she travels she gains confidence and perspective on the important things in life. Fans of books that tell more than one story will truly enjoy this read. Notes: This review was written for Sasee Magazine and My Sister's Books. This review was posted on the Ariesgrl Book Reviews website.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I spent my weekend reading this book. It has been a long time since a story has held my interest like that. I loved the book and would recommend it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Overall the story has good intentions but seemed to fall apart at the end. One character in particular went through an unbelievable transformation. It didn't seem like the same character at all as the story progressed. One minute she is not caring and the next she minute she cares about too much. It just didn't seem to flow right. I gave it two stars for the potential it could have had. Good plot but the storyline needs help.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good discussion in my book group.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful plot. Loved the setting. Great characters. This book is highly recommended. Another great book written about the same time period is "The Partisan" by William Jarvis. Both are well researched historical fiction. Both books deserve A+++++
RtBBlog More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Maria Book provided by NetGalley for review Review originally posted at Romancing the Book I read my first Rosie Thomas novel THE WHITE DOVE more than two decades ago. I found it to be a memorable read, an historical novel set in the early years of the 20th century. Twenty five years later, it’s delightful to see Ms. Thomas is still penning historical works of the same, noteworthy quality. She still has that quality of producing spellbinding dialogue and even more memorable characters not to mention compulsive story lines which literally drag you in. THE KASHMIR SHAWL is both historical and contemporary. It’s the story of Mair (pron. Mayar, Welsh for Mary) Ellis, a young woman who comes to India to discover something of the unknown history of her grandmother, Nerys Watkins, the wife of a nonconformist missionary pastor. At the same time, it’s Nerys’ story too. Nerys, the eager young pastor’s wife, who took up life in the mission field some seventy years previously. Side by side, Mair and Nerys’ stories unfold. Nerys had married straight out of teacher training college. At a somewhat more mature age, Mair still hasn’t settled down although we see her sharing drinks, a long chat and an obvious attraction with Bruno, the father of a young family, the Beckers, which she meets on her travels. We sense her dismay at the growing attraction and her eagerness to put a lid on it. Mair isn’t the sort of girl who would just go after another woman’s man. The story of Nerys is visible to the reader, but not to Mair. She has to be content with some cryptic clues her grandmother has bequeathed from the past. A beautiful Kashmir shawl in a now obsolete style of work known as ‘kani’ and a lock of hair. As readers we see Nerys in the Srinagar club with her friends, fellow British Raj wives Myrtle McMinn and Caroline Bowen. Caroline’s marriage to a rough army officer is a most disappointing union, leading the vulnerable young woman to seek the love that eludes her in an affair with a young Indian man from a princely family, who is most certainly using her. It’s actually use verging on abuse, albeit of a mental kind. British but Indian born Myrtle, with her incessant cigarette smoking, her dry sense of humour and non-judgmental stance in matters of the heart, is one of the more memorable characters in the story. And dear, lovely Nerys, the ever practical pastor’s wife. Her idealistic and shy husband prays for more converts to his church while Nerys feels, without saying it out, that India has more than enough religions to keep it going and that it would be rather more practical to offer it’s teeming masses some practical way to exit from the hopeless cycle of poverty. Yet Nerys’s devotion to duty Is severely tested when she indulges in a short, discreet affair in her husband’s absence, with a Swiss mountaineer, Rainer Stamm. With Rainer, she touches the heights of passion such as she’s never experienced with her shy pastor husband, which has never amounted to more than a frantic fumble and a shy goodnight. Yet unlike her immature friend Caroline, who dreams that her Indian lover will try to claim her for his own, Nerys is adamant that she will never leave her husband. She is careful enough to employ contraception and lets her lover know that this can never be more than temporary. She, like the British of her time, knows her duty. As Myrtle puts it quite succinctly, ‘we’re wives of the Raj’, which to put it another way, means, ‘we know our role.’ Mair’s association with the Becker family ends tragically early in the narrative, after a fatal incident in Leh, in northern India. She meets Bruno Becker again towards the end of the story, and by then a lot of the pieces of the puzzle have fallen into place. She’s acquired the acquaintance of the nonagenarian Caroline Bowen along with some letters and a powerful photograph. She’s guessing about Nerys’s attraction to Rainer Stamm in the way one feels something inwardly. Returning to India with Becker about a year after leaving, there is a sense of completion and that sense that a new chapter is about to start. As I live in the Gangetic Plain of north India and have visited Srinagar in the Jammu and Kashmir State, I can vouch for the authenticity of the narrative. Thomas’s descriptive prose brings north India alive. She mentions the warm ‘pheron’ coats of Kashmir. These coats are often acquired by foreigners and while most of them are made from traditional woolen cloth, I noticed that pherons are also available in a British looking tweed fabric and wondered how that could be. But now, from reading this story, I realize that the tweed pheron came into use during the British rule in India. The British had a tendency to Anglicize a lot of things and the pheron is one of them. As an historical novel, it’s painstakingly well researched. As a contemporary novel it also comes up to the mark, although I would have liked to know more about Mair as a person in her own right and not just as someone investigating her grandmother. Yes, Mair’s interesting life is also recorded, but where she goes from here intrigues me a lot. I guess I’m just hungry for more of her story. Humorous and sometimes tragic but never ever dull, this story from the times the British ruled in India held my attention until the very end. Favorite Quote: From Tibet there were trays of silver, coral and turquoise jewellery, from China painted Thermos flasks and furry nylon blankets in electric hues.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book that has a lot of twists and turns! Could not put it down.
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tiffanydavis2 More than 1 year ago
 The Kashmir Shawl: A Novel, by Rosie Thomas, follows a young girl by the name of Mair.  While Mair is cleaning out her parents house after their deaths, she finds a beautiful Kashmir Shawl, a picture, and a lock of hair that sparks her interest.  She decides that she will travel to India to find out who the lock of hair belonged to, who is the picture she found, and what the shawls story was!  It turns out that the shawl was Mair's grandmother's, Nerys.  The story then goes back and forth between Mair in present day and Nerys back in the 1940's.      The author did an amazing job at taking two separate stories and weaving them together into one story with out any confusion.   I'm glad that I decided to take a chance on this amazing book.  It was a page turner from the get go.  I was so entrances with both Mair and Nerys' stories.  I found myself feeling as Mair did, just wanting to know more and understand where the shawl came from.  I would highly recommend this book  to anyone looking for a great read.  Good job to the author, I am looking forward to reading more from Rosie Thomas!