Book Review: The Tainted by Cauvery Madhavan

Hope Road Publishing    €12.99

This work of fiction is based on a true story, beginning with the mutiny among the Connaught Rangers, stationed in India at the time of the Black & Tans’ atrocities in Ireland. Ireland was not yet an independent state and India had even further to go to gain her independence. Opening in 1920, this novel recounts the romance of young Private Michael Flaherty, stationed in Nandagiri in South East India, and Rose, the Anglo-Indian governess to the Irish Colonel Aylmer’s children. Educated and capable, Rose believes herself to be “pale” enough to be accepted by her superiors as Michael’s fiancée. She is gravely mistaken.

In the 1980’s Colonel Aylmer’s grandson leaves Kildare to visit India, intending to open an art exhibition in Nandagiri. But the local people have long memories…

This beautifully-crafted novel is underpinned with the history of English occupation of both India and Ireland and the author, Indian by birth but living in Ireland for over thirty years, displays remarkable empathy with both cultures. Her descriptions of south-east India and its people, pre-and post-independence, are outstanding. Since this is the summer of holidays at home, with all the rain and wind we can stand, we could all do with being transported to the exotic heat, the strange and spicy aromas, and the intense, vivid colours of India in all its splendour, as well as in all its profound tragedies. Absolutely marvellous.  

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