Google+ YA Romantics: Just Finished Reading ... Cinders and Sapphires

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Just Finished Reading ... Cinders and Sapphires

Cinders and Sapphires
by Leila Rasheed
To be published by Hyperion
on January 22, 2013

Source: ARC sent by the publisher for review. See my FTC disclosure here.





Summary, excerpted from Goodreads:
For the first time in a decade, the Averleys have returned to Somerton, their majestic ancestral estate. But terrible scandal has followed Ada’s beloved father all the way from India. Now Ada finds herself torn between her own happiness and her family’s honor. Only she has the power to restore the Averley name—but it would mean giving up her one true love . . . someone she could never persuade her father to accept.

My take: I'm a fan of Downton Abbey, the BBC series that follows a British earl, his family and their servants through a bunch of historical events and personal issues. The show started with a plotline that featured the sinking of the Titanic, then went on to have characters serving in the British army in World War I, and has just moved into the 1920s.

Cinders and Sapphires is definitely a Downton Abbey readalike, complete with a huge cast of characters and a plotline thick with scheming, longing, backstabbing, and intrigue.  Like Downton Abbey, Cinders and Sapphires also draws in timely social issues like women's suffrage and education and the declining fortunes and influence of the British nobility in the 20th century.

As Cinders and Sapphires opens in 1910, we meet Lady Ada Averley, who is sailing home to Somerton House in England after living in India with her father, a Lieutenant Governor. One moonlit night on board ship, Ava bumps into Ravi Sundaresan, a middle class Indian traveling to London to attend school. They fall instantly in love.

This was the one part of the book I struggled with, and I don't just mean the insta-love. I applaud the idea of a cross-cultural relationship between a British noble and a middle class Indian student, and, in fact, this plot brings to mind one of my favorite historical series, the Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray. But in Cinders and Sapphires, the reader never sees the relationship between Ava and Ravi. The opening scene between the two aboard ship is brief, ending in a discreet cutaway. We don't really know what happened. Did they have a one-night stand? Did they spend every day on the ship together?

Ava and Ravi then spend most of the rest of the book apart, aside from a few brief encounters. I never really felt the love between them, and and certainly not the passionate, epic kind of love that would make a noble-born British girl face the disapproval of polite society and ruin her chances on the marriage market.

But, never fear, there are plenty of other romantic relationships in Cinders and Sapphires. The book is so full of love triangles and squares that it could take up an entire geometry textbook. I made a diagram:


This tangle of relationships certainly made the book fast-paced and fun to read. One of my other favorite things about the book was learning more about Indian colonial history and the Partition of Bengal in 1905.

If you love Downton Abbey and are looking for a book that's similar, you should definitely check this one out. Here's a list of plot elements that you will find in both Cinders and Sapphires and Downton Abbey:

--a scheming lady's maid
--an Earl with no sons to inherit his title and estate
--illegitimate child
--engagement to a dull guy while madly in love with someone else
--suffragette
--a trusted lady's maid who keeps secrets
--sisters/stepsisters plotting against one another
--blackmail
-- a servant falsely accused of murder

Is Cinders and Sapphires for you? If you like light historical fiction in the vein of the Luxe series by Anna Godbersen, yes.  Or, if you love books with a lot of different plot lines and romantic entanglements, then you should definitely try Cinders and Sapphires. 

Tell me in comments: do you like historical fiction? Do you watch Downton Abbey?

30 comments:

  1. Haven't had a chance to start this one yet (it's my weekend reading!) but am very excited to get started. I did not know about the cross-cultural romance but suspect I will want more of it.

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    1. Yes, I wish there were more, and that we got to see it. Off-stage romance, bah!

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  2. Wow. That is A LOT of romantic entanglements. LOVE the chart, btw. :) And I knew we were friends for a reason...the Gemma Doyle trilogies is one of my favorites EVAR. (I actually kinda want to re-read that. Wonder if there's audio? Must research. :D) Great review! I actually have never seen Downton Abbey (GASP!) but I do think I'd enjoy it...and probably this book since it sounds so similar.

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    1. Yeah, the next thing you know I'll love Excel?
      Gemma Doyle <3 <3 <3

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  3. I'm not the biggest fan of historical fiction, although i did really like the luxe series :) Haven't heard of downton abbey!
    That diagram is nuts!

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    1. Yeah, I had fun making that. There are a lot of sub-plots!

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  4. aww lucky I been waiting to read this one <3 cannot wait till it comes out

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    1. Not much longer to wait! And (hint, hint) stop by Freebie Friday tomorrow!

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  5. I loved Downton Abbey and Gemma Doyle trilogy. I have had Cinders and Sapphires for a while now, but still am not really sure about it.

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  6. Hmm this one sounds interesting. That diagram kind of scares me though. For one, I cringe at insta-love, and then I don't like love triangles typically either. I don't know if this would be a book for me, but I'[m glad that you enjoyed it.

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    1. Yeah, I have mixed feelings about all the relationships. They're fun, but you never get to delve into any of them very deeply.

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  7. Wow, that is quite a diagram! Haha. I'm not really sure about this book. I'm going to read some more reviews before I make up my mind. Nice review though! :)

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    1. Why, thank you. Okay, let me know what you think if you read it!

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  8. Love your new background!!
    Don't think that this one is for me, but great review all the same.
    Happy reading,
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

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  9. LOL! WOW! That is one complicated love triangle! Thanks for the review!

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    1. Yeah there are a lot of people with interconnected relationships!

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  10. LOL - Love the diagram! Ada seems to be a popular girl. I haven't watched Downtown Abby yet. I will though, I'm sure. This book sounds good, and I'd definitely love to read it.

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    1. Love the show, though this season (#3) is not nearly as good as the other two.

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  11. Oh heartache! The Gemma Doyle Trilogy was one of the best things ever! I think I may have to plan a re-read, which is really ill planned seeing as I once again have 43 library books to read piled up. Not sure about the book but quite a fan of your diagram. They are always a big help!

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    1. Yay --- re-read would be so fun. Maybe in the summer!

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  12. I love that you made a diagram. lol I am still on the fence if this is something I would enjoy. I love a lot of the plot elements you listed so I just might! :)

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  13. Sold! But I've wanted to read this for awhile. The title doesn't blow me away, but any resemblance to Downton Abbey and I am down with that!

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  14. I was hoping you would say something that would make me not want to read it... but alas...

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  15. I'm a huge fan of DOWNTON ABBEY, so this goes on my reading list.

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