THE ROAD BACK
7 September 2012
Choc Lit Limited
Rating: 5 Cups
Patricia Carstaires takes a back seat in her uncompromising father’s affections after her brother’s illness and death. To win his love, she’s willing to provide the one thing the retired major can get nowhere else: a companion for his trip to relive his memories of the magical time he spent in Ladakh, north of Tibet in 1945.
They make a documentary with maps and pictures of the major’s first trip. They learn the language. In 1963, when Patricia is eighteen, as a reward for her secretarial help, her father leaves her mother behind and invites her to accompany him. She endures physical hardships to impress him and replace the son he has lost. What neither expects is to meet eighteen-year-old Kalden, a local man, the fourth son destined to be a Buddhist monk. Patricia and Kalden fall in love. Major Carstaires deems Kalden an unacceptable suitor, thinking of him as only a peasant. Despite such disapproval, the lovers are determined to be together.
If told linearly, this story frame would span from 1945 to 1951 to 1963 and 1995. Set against a cultural background rarely featured in novels, that of the Buddhist part of Ladakh, it tells of a passion that crosses cultures, of a love that lasts a lifetime, and of hope that can only come from revisiting the past.
This is a book readers wallows in. Despite a few awkward structural stories’ positioning, it rings true and eats at the very heart of one’s emotions. The characters are well drawn, the language appropriate, and the feelings and motivations clear. Patricia’s mother is predictably weak however sympathetic. Her father is a wounded tyrant. And she is caught in the middle to keep her sanity and make her life livable the only way she can.
Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance & More