Hello and welcome to the first stop on the Eden Gardens blog tour!
Eden Gardens is an intoxicating tale of love in 1940s Calcutta. Living in run down house with a mother well known for 'entertaining' the officers, Daisy can only hope for a better life. When her tutor falls ill one day, his son arrives in his place and Maisy is smitten by the handsome man that promises her everything she's ever wanted. But in the dangerous world of British India, as the Second World War breaks out, love is never simple.
I'm thrilled to welcome author of Eden Gardens, Louise Brown, to my blog today as she shares an insight into the city where her novel is set, Calcutta.
Sense of place: Calcutta in the 1940s
by Louise Brown
Calcutta used to be the second city of the British Empire and was known as the ‘City of Palaces.’ Today, though, it’s often associated, unfairly, with extreme poverty. The 1940s were a remarkable, and terrible, decade for Calcutta. The fashionable Chowringhee and Park Street buzzed with life, the bazaars were busy, and the traditional mansions of the Bengali elite were home to a rich culture. The parkland, known as the Maidan, provided the city with its famous ‘lungs’ and, through the centre of it all, the River Hooghly flowed, brown and muddy.
But things were changing: British power was disintegrating. Wartime Calcutta was packed with Allied troops, and the Maidan became an airfield. An appalling famine killed millions of Bengalis, and communal violence ripped the city apart. After the joy of Independence in 1947, the city was flooded with desperate refugees.
Today, Calcutta is one of the world’s great cities, and thrives despite its difficult history. The best way to see it is on foot, preferably in the mornings before the heat and the crowds claim it. The grand public buildings of the Raj still stand, the Maidan continues to resist the developers, the bazaars are vibrant, and although many old palaces have vanished, a few remain as reminders of a past that isn’t always happy.
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