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Tiger Burning Bright: 03/26/09
Tiger Burning Bright by Theodora DuBois is an exercise in the adage of "don't judge a book by its cover." Looking at the cover alone, it looks like a light-hearted young adult novel with perhaps a dash of romance. While it is a young adult novel and there is a romantic thread it is by no means lighthearted (except in its start and finish).
Open the book and there is a single page with a title: "A Few Facts about India" which contains three brief pages about the Sepoy Rebellion. The Indian Rebellion of 1857 is the setting for Tiger Burning Bright. While the introduction sets the stage for a nail bighting historical drama, DuBois's view on the events is decidedly pro-British and some of her prejudice does bleed through into the novel.
The novel is written from the point of view of Anne Burney a young American Missionary whose family is in India. While they are in the south away from where the rebellion explodes, Anne is sent north to serve as the governess to an English family living in Delhi. When most of the adults are killed, Anne, her friend Jack from America and the English children from the village make the long and dangerous walk from Delhi through the desert to Multan (now part of Pakistan).
DuBois's choice to two Americans as the leads helps some to balance the different sides in the rebellion: the British (many of whom were civilians), the Hindus and the Muslims as well as a few smaller groups. The Muslims in the book get the worst treatment being almost universally presented as dangerous and savage even those such as Usef Ali who helps them at great risk to his own family. Given the circumstances of the war raging just outside of the walled compound of his home I think he acted fairly reasonably.
My understanding the geography and the history of the rebellion helped make the novel far more frightening than I think it would have been had I read it even as recently as three years ago. Back in 2006 I researched the area for a Nanowrimo I was writing that year set along the Indus River.
If you decide to read Tiger Burning Bright or other novels set during this time period, I also recommend:
Comment #1Sunday, March, 29, 2009 at 01:58:02
Wonderful review Sarah! I added it to my TBR.
Comment #2: Sunday, March 29, 2009 at 20:05:20
Thank you! Happy reading.