The India Fan

Written by Victoria Holt
Review by Tamela McCann

Drusilla Delany has always lived in the shadow of the Framling family; as daughter to the local rector, she is deemed suitable enough to be a companion to the controlling Lady Harriet’s spoiled daughter Lavinia, though neither ever really seems to like the other. While constantly trying to keep Lavinia out of trouble, Drusilla must also keep a watchful eye on Sir Fabian, Lavinia’s older brother, whose motives are murky at best. When both girls are sent away to school, Lavinia’s wild behavior finds her indebted to Drusilla with a secret that could ruin her reputation, but it does not stop Lavinia from taking Drusilla’s potential suitor and leaving her erstwhile friend alone. From there, the scene shifts as the young women find themselves in India, where Lavinia’s family is torn apart and Drusilla must decide if her feelings for Fabian are genuine.

I was excited to read The India Fan, as I read Holt’s books ravenously as a teen and I wanted to see how well they held up. Unfortunately, this one may not have been a good choice because it lacks compelling, redeeming characters, and the plot is quite slow. The titular fan seems an almost forced device; its supposed curse is a stretch at best and totally unbelievable at worst. Drusilla often allows events to happen around her, reacting only afterwards, and Fabian never found a voice that struck any interest in this reader. I so wanted to enjoy The India Fan, and perhaps I might have had I not such fond memories of being absorbed in Holt’s gothic mysteries long ago.