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Not Yet Drown'd: A Novel

2 Ratings: 2.5
a book by Peg Kingman

Receiving a gift from her believed-dead twin brother in 1822, Catherine MacDonald travels to India with her stepdaughter and maids in search of answers, a quest that takes her along an obscure trail of tea, opium, and artistic works.

Author: Peg Kingman
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Co.
Date Published: 2007
1 review about Not Yet Drown'd: A Novel

"We cannot always have everything we want."

  • Jan 25, 2009
  • by
Rating:
+4
In 1822, newly-widowed Catherine MacDonald is settling with her stepdaughter, Grace, into her brother, Hector's Edinburgh home. Recovering from the accidental death of her husband, Catherine is also grieving for her twin brother, Sandy, drowned in the Indian monsoons of 1821. An accomplished bagpipe musician, Sandy's true calling was the cultivation of tea, her sibling convinced that tea could be grown not only in China, but in India. Unfortunately, Sandy runs afoul of his employers, the East India Company, and is assigned to the opium fields shortly before his death in the monsoon season. When Catherine receives a package, the address penned in her twin's hand, she begins to wonder why the body was never found and whether her brother could still be alive. The package contains a Kashmiri shawl, a sheaf of handwritten music for bagpipes, including one titled "Not Yet Drown'd" and an ornate box filled with what appears to be tea leaves.

Before Catherine can pursue her thoughts about Sandy's fate, more serious events transpire that threaten her security and that of eight-year-old Grace. Having traveled all the way from America, a woman arrives on Hector's doorstep announcing her intention to deliver the child to blood relatives in Virginia. Catherine refuses, unleashing the stranger's wrath and a promise to return with the assistance of the law. Although Catherine prepares to flee, she seriously underestimates the perseverance of this woman, who manages a great coup, plucking the hapless Grace from the family. There ensues a dramatic chase and attempted rescue, Catherine suddenly on board ship with her brother, Hector, bound for India, where he intends to test the innovations he has made to the current methods of steamship travel. And Catherine isn't alone. Besides a trembling Grace, Catherine has added two more women to her party, the slave who accompanied the lady from Virginia and an enigmatic Indian maid, who has been trying to gain passage to India for her own reasons.

One could get lost in the modernization of steamship design or the complicated pages of bagpipe music that Catherine diligently copies to send back to her sister-in-law in Edinburgh, or even the day to day trials of life aboard ship. But the real drama of this novel is Catherine's journey to the interior of India in search of information about her brother's fate, the romance she does her best to sabotage and the gradual unfolding of the ayah's shocking story, filled with tales of ritual and tradition and a great love gone astray. India is the jewel of this crown, all events conspiring to focus on a country still in the throes of Britain's imperialist agenda, the pampered English oblivious to the lives of those around them, save the administration of their creature comforts. Yet somehow Catherine manages to overcome every obstacle with the help of her Indian maid-turned-confidant, their friendship blooming as the weeks pass. From fog-shrouded Scotland to the dense jungles of India, the intricacies of tea plantations and steamboat races, Catherine has the adventure of a lifetime, her grieving heart restored by an awakening love and the restoration of all she holds dear. Luan Gaines.
Not Yet Drown'd

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