THE ROAD BACK
Sept. 7, 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 complete a documentary with maps and pictures of the major’s first trip. They learn the language. In 1963 when Patricia is 18, as a reward for her secretarial help, her father leaves her mother behind and invites her to accompany him back. She endures physical hardships to impress him and replace the son he lost. What neither of them expected was to meet eighteen-year-old Kalden, a local man, a fourth son destined to be a Buddhist monk. They fall in love. Major Carstaires deems Kalden an unacceptable suitor, thinking of him as only a peasant. Despite her father’s disapproval, the lovers are determined to be together.
This frame story, if told linearly, would span 1945-1951 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 the reader 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 a predictably weak but sympathetic person; 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