Creatively conceived, skillfully executed, and full of imaginative surprises — Lucinda Riley’s THE MIDNIGHT ROSE is a novel that will not disappoint. Having first discovered Riley in her SEVEN SISTERS series, it was wonderful to find this stand-alone novel just as compelling. If not more so. Awarded 5 stars on Goodreads.
Here are complex storylines, lots of distinctive and well-differentiated characters, and plenty of dark motivations — all moving back and forth between the evolving cultures of aristocratic Britain and exotic India, throughout the 20th century.
Riley has created two memorable heroines:
1. Annahita — an unusually well-educated but impoverished young girl, born into British-controlled India in the early 1900s.
2. Rebecca – a glamorous Hollywood star temporarily living at a great country home in England (Downton Abbey-ish) to shoot a 1920s period movie that she hopes will cement her reputation as a credible actress, instead of simply a beautiful woman.
Both are strong women, and, of course, there is a connection between them. But no spoilers because that connection is the slow reveal which propels the entire novel.
Along the way, Riley weaves in a number of relevant social issues that are shifting through the century — like ideas about inter-racial romance, the unquestioned power wielded by British aristocrats, and the eternal tension between rich and poor.
So often, when I’m deep into a novel, I get a sense of how the storylines are likely to play out. But not this time. I was still getting surprised even in the last chapter. This one was a joy to read, from page 1.