Those three months of seeing other cultures—not just the tourist sights, but the way real people lived (cooking over dried-cow-dung fires), the way missionaries adapted to simple living (don’t shoo the frog out of the bathroom; he eats the mosquitoes), the different ways Christians of other cultures worshipped the same God I loved (with their shoes off)—changed my life. In the end I spent my adult life, not in India or Pakistan, but nevertheless in cross-cultural ministry.
The soft spot I feel for my first cross-cultural experience drew me immediately to Christine Lindsay’s Twilight of the Raj series The third and final volume, Veiled at Midnight, came out last fall. This is historic fiction (my favorite genre) set at the time of the Partition of India and Pakistan. British India is disintegrating as the Muslim League and Hindu Congress fight for separate states. The violence and massacres sound like the stuff of modern newscasts.
Miriam Fraser’s students at Kinaird College for Women in Lahore come from a variety of religious communities, forming a microcosm of the country as a whole. Can they overcome their cultural prejudices to model unity in the confusion? Friends of mine (the next generation of some we visited on that trip in the 1960s) work today at a Christian college in the same city, and face a similar challenge to model Christ in the midst of hatred and religious violence.
Of course, the book contains a love story. Two of them actually. Miriam is actively courted by a dashing English officer who, while admiring her spunk, begs her to return with him to the safety of British colonial rule. Her brother, Captain Cameron Fraser has fallen in love with an Indian orphan girl they were raised with at the mission where their parents served, but his estranged childhood friend, another orphan, loves her too and will do anything to keep them apart. Christine does an excellent job of portraying her Indian characters just as fully as her English characters.
Filled with romance, suspense, history and spiritual insight, this book swept me up from its opening rail disaster to its final escape amidst the murderous mobs. Christine’s writing brings to life the Indian subcontinent with its sights, smells and rich cultures, including Indian Christians caught between rival groups.
“I believe in happy endings,” writes Christine Lindsay. But her endings are not fairytale endings. India is still violently ripped apart and not everyone gets what they think they wanted. I’m interviewing Christine today on International Christian Fiction Writers. Pop over and read what drew her to India, how she went about researching her books and what she found when she was able to visit the land she had been writing about.
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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