Wings of Freedom is at heart a historical romance. That is slightly outside the genres I usually read but the blurb promised an Indian setting with a backdrop of British Colonialism, a revolution and World War I which made it very appealing.
1911, Delhi. George V is due to visit for a Coronation celebration. When there is a suspected arson attack on the Royal camp prior to his arrival British police clamp down, afraid of sabotage or even worse an assassination attempt by revolutionaries. Having been working in the area Raju is concerned that he may be unfairly implicated. He is a college student at something of a crossroads in his life. His friends are firmly behind the revolutionary cause and want to plan action of their own to strike against the British. His father however runs a business relying on imports from Britain and has different view of the political situation in India.
Raju's thoughts are further clouded when he meets Catharine, a British Doctor who has moved to India to try and improve health care and in particular maternity care in the area, and British officer's daughter Eileen. She has been born and raised in India, and contrary to her father's wishes is keen to experience as much of India as possible. Raju and Eileen both feel an almost instant attraction, but with racial and social divisions conspiring against them they are both concerned about whether a future together is possible.
I wasn't entirely sure whether the balance between romance and historical fiction would be to my liking but I discovered a book I really enjoyed. The story touches on a range of issues facing people at the time and I found reading about India's fight for freedom interesting and really appreciated a new perspective on WWI. It was quite an educational read but set within a plot that flowed nicely to make it an easy read. I did spot a few typos but they were minor and didn't distract me from the story. The story opens with the end of the story, an urgent telegram to Raju from Eileen, then starts from the beginning. This had me on tenterhooks throughout, wondering what had happened to get to that point. The story really stepped up a gear towards the end and moved to a dramatic climax.
Raju and Eileen were quite likeable characters, both trying to follow their hearts while being respectful of their parents and finding their way in a time fraught with difficulties. Raju grows from a boy to a man during the book and Eileen isn't the spoilt, flighty rich girl I had been half expecting.
I really liked this book and appreciated the notes at the end, with a glossary of the Indian terms used as well as some notes on the historical facts as they relate to the events in the book. Those notes could have been slightly better presented on the kindle but that is a very minor criticism.
Format: Kindle, review copy
My Rating: 4*