Today’s review features debut author Kimberly Duffy and her new novel set in New York and India, during the late Victorian age.
It’s 1885, and all Nora Shipley wants, now that she’s graduating from Cornell University as valedictorian of the entomology program, is to follow in her late father’s footsteps by getting her master’s degree and taking over the scientific journal he started. The only way to uphold her father’s legacy is to win a scholarship, so she joins a research expedition in Kodaikanal, India, to prove herself in the field.
India isn’t what she expects, though, and neither is the rival classmate who accompanies her, Owen Epps. As her preconceptions of India–and of Owen–fall away, she finds both far more captivating than she expected. Forced by the expedition leader to stay at camp and illustrate exotic butterflies the men of the team find without her, Nora befriends Sita, a young Indian girl who has been dedicated to a goddess against her will.
In this spellbinding new land, Nora is soon faced with impossible choices–between saving Sita and saving her career, and between what she’s always thought she wanted and the man she’s come to love.
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A Mosaic of Wings is a story of growth, selfless love, and romance. I was enraptured, like Nora, with the beauty and colors of India encountered in these pages. Her journey is one of discovering purpose, a sweet friendship-to-romance, and the joy of life.
The romance was a subtle thread at first, taking a back seat to Nora’s education and subsequent events that led her to choosing to participate in an expedition in India. It was delightful to see it grow from a deepening friendship to something more in a natural and lovely way. Owen champions Nora, selflessly, and she learns more about herself from his encouragement and confidence.
The portions of the novel that take place in India are my favorite. Kimberly Duffy impressively conveys its colors and cultures, spicy food, challenging terrain, and social customs vastly different from Nora’s norm. This environment and the new people she meets challenge Nora. They cause her to reconsider her purpose and ability to make a difference in someone else’s life, even if that means making difficult choices.
Nora begins the story with some impulsive tendencies. It’s nice to see her grow throughout the course of her travels. Toward the latter part of the story, however, she makes a series of choices which I thought undo part of her newfound maturity and go against my expectations of her character. She does learn from this, and all is righted eventually, but I would have liked to see her understanding and treatment of people reflect the growth she had already surmounted.
I am looking forward to Kimberly’s next historical novel, wherever it might take me!
Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.