Small Acts of Amazing Courage
In 1918, India is under British rule, and 15-year-old Rosalind is the darling of a privileged class. Most British children are sent back to England for their schooling at an early age, but with her father away at war and her mother in delicate health, Rosalind is free to soak up all that India has to offer – the bustling streets, the lively bazaar, the tastes and sounds and colors of her home. But in her wanderings she hears rumors of a movement to win India’s independence – led by a man named Gandhi. Should she abide by the unspoken rules of her own class, or should she try to help the less fortunate and face the consequences? Rosalind gradually begins to realize that doing the right thing is not always as simple as her parents would have her believe.
Gloria Whelan’s love for India shines through in her gorgeous descriptions, and her characters are warm and believable. However, the plot line quickly loses thrust. The chapters set in England seem almost completely disconnected from those set in India, and the black-and-white personalities of the two spinster aunts bored me. I would have liked to see Rosalind encounter some real danger – if only once – to account for her change in perspective. Instead, she remains ever the darling of Fortune, with more than one deus ex machina to pull her out of her predicaments and smooth over her mistakes.