Carla Caruso, Cliquemedia
I\’m not a huge fan of historical fiction (sorry to all the fans!), yet India Dark by Kirsty Murray drew me in with its short, snappy chapters and colourful depictions. Like the following&
“I ran, weaving my way between the rickshaws, the teawallahs and the crowd that flowed into the old town, into the narrow lanes of the flower bazaar”. And& “Tilly brought the scent of sugar and lilies.”
Ah, such delicious wording!
India Dark is dubbed “a story of things kept secret, of conflicting wills and desires, set against the heat and dust of a lost empire”.
It comes from award-winning Melbourne author Kirsty Murray and is based on the true story of a group of young Australian performers, who toured Asia and India at the turn of the century – before staging a strike and refusing to travel any further! (Murray has written nine novels for young people, including the epic quartet of historical fiction, Children of the Wind.)
Set in 1910, friends Poesy and Tilly get caught up in a scandal, set to change their lives forever. Singing and dancing across a hundred stages as members of a troupe of Australian child performers, they travel by steam train into the heart of India. But, as one disaster follows another, money runs short and tempers fray.
I was impressed by Murray\’s level of research in writing this book, including interviews, grant funding, a creative fellowship and writer-in-residence gig, with support from organisations and individuals in Australia, India and Indonesia.
In her acknowledgements, Murray says: “In writing India Dark, I have attempted to detail the known facts of the case and flesh the story out to make the children\’s experiences as vivid and true-to-life as possible. What can never be known is what was in the hearts and minds of the young people caught in an impossible situation.”
Available now: Allen & Unwin RRP$16.99