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East of the Sun

East of the Sun

A Novel

  • reading group guide
From award winner Julia Gregson, author of Jasmine Nights, this sweeping international bestseller brilliantly captures the lives of three young women on their way to a new life in India during the 1920s.

As the Kaisar-I-Hind weighs anchor for Bombay in the autumn of 1928, its passengers ponder their fate in a distant land. They are part of the “Fishing Fleet”—the name given to the legions of English women who sail to India each year in search of husbands, heedless of the life that awaits them. The inexperienced chaperone Viva Holloway has been entrusted to watch over three unsettling charges. There’s Rose, as beautiful as she is naïve, who plans to marry a cavalry officer she has met a mere handful of times. Her bridesmaid, Victoria, is hell-bent on losing her virginity en route before finding a husband of her own. And shadowing them all is the malevolent presence of a disturbed schoolboy named Guy Glover.

From the parties of the wealthy Bombay socialites to the poverty of Tamarind Street, from the sooty streets of London to the genteel conversation of the Bombay Yacht Club, East of the Sun takes us back to a world we hardly understand but yearn to know. This is a book that has it all: glorious detail, fascinating characters, and masterful storytelling.
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  • Touchstone | 
  • 608 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439117804 | 
  • June 2009
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A new novel from Julia Gregson: East of the Sun

A sweeping historical novel and international bestseller, in which three potential Memsahibs leave England for new lives in India in the 1920s.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for East of the Sun includes discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Julia Gregson. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.



Questions for Discussion

1. Viva’s decision to return to India is a complicated one. What does she expect to discover? What life does she want to create for herself? How does that change over the course of the novel?

2. The notion of home is an important theme in the novel. Contrast the homes that the girls leave behind with the ones that they create. Viva and Tor thrive in the foreign setting and relative freedom of India, while Rose’s new life is tinged with nostalgia. What constitutes home for each? Discuss the thrills and perils of being a young woman in the Fishing Fleet, leaving home for the unknown.

3. The author frequently uses rich, colorful imagery to describe the exotic sights of India. How do the sensual descriptions of India contrast with those of England? How do the descriptions and images of daily life differ?

4. Rose and Tor have no education and little information to prepare them for relationships with men. In what ways does this sexual innocence harm them? What cultural or antiquated attitud see more

Behind the Book

About the Author

Julia Gregson
Alex Pownall

Julia Gregson

Julia Gregson has worked as a journalist and foreign correspondent in the U.K., Australia, and the U.S. Her novel East of the Sun was a major bestseller in the U.K. and won the Romantic Novel of the Year Prize and the Le Prince Maurice Prize there.  Her short stories have been published in collections and magazines and read on the radio. She lives in Monmouthshire, England.

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