by Nidhi: I love reading books by authors who are of a different race, culture, religion, or ethnicity than me. I enjoy books that shed a little light on a different world view and allow me a peek into cultural experiences outside my norm. I also generally enjoy historical fiction because, although the story is imagined, the events in the historical setting are always enlightening. This story checked all those boxes and I did genuinely enjoy it.

A Hindu perfumer and a Muslim calligrapher fall in love in the early 1940s. As the country gains its independence from Britain, it also faces Partition, in which the religious divide rends the country in two. The Muslims were forced to flee to Pakistan while people who were Hindu and Sikh fled to India. The political and religious divides tear the couple apart. The story spans decades and generations, covering the history of the first World War all the way to modern times.

The language in this story is so incredibly rich and engages all the senses! You can almost smell the perfumes being distilled and feel the luxurious, bright fabrics that fill the rooms. The smell of spicy food cooking and the sounds of life in a busy marketplace are spellbinding. The author does a phenomenal job of drawing the reader into another world in another time. The characters are well-rounded and captivating. These are the elements that kept me reading to the end. This is a rich story in every respect and I am glad I saw it through to the end.

That being said, this book is L-O-N-G! The story takes so many tragic turns, covers so much history, and introduces so much information to wade through that it does get a little cumbersome.