The actress Isla Blair’s extraordinary, moving and uplifting story of her childhood in India and her separation from her parents. Born in Bangalore India, during the fading days of the Raj, Isla grew up on a tea plantation managed by her father. She spent her early years in the lush, verdant hills of Kerala with her much loved older sister Fiona, secure in the love and affection of her parents and her adored “Ayah”.
This warm, spice-scented idyll was abruptly ended when, obliged by tradition and entirely believing they were doing the best for their daughters, her parents sent Isla and her sister “home” to boarding school. She was not quite six years old. But “home” was cold, gloomy, post-war austerity Scotland – a land of liberty bodices, chilblains, icy mornings and dank, drizzly days; an alien land where for several years she nursed an astonishing secret – of which only Fiona was aware. Isla Blair writes lyrically of her beloved India, stoically of term times in Spartan English boarding schools and holidays with grandparents and with great humour and vivacity of the time after school when she became one of the youngest students at RADA, training alongside Anthony Hopkins and others and throwing herself fully into life in London in the swinging ‘60s.
Isla Blair's memoir is a beautifully read, and for the most part beautifully written book. It starts uncertainly, perhaps a little cliched in capturing British Raj life at the tail end of empire, but she quickly finds a voice and this listener was captivated thereafter (I listened in to it all in just two sessions).
She is less sure when relating her adult life (she admits to disliking the perjorative term "luvvie" but, just for a few short minutes, she does lapse in to this style) but her recollections of her childhood, which occupies the vast majority of the book feel very real and have enormous charm. I smiled and cried constantly.
This is finally an uplifting book and Isla Blair has much to say in her reflective passages that makes sense of both her's and the reader's lives. A great achievement which misses out on that fifth star, perhaps mean spiritedly by me, because of the very small lapse from the overwhelming good taste of the rest in to a little bit of "poor little rich girl". Don't let this put you off - you will be delighted that you gave this a listen.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about childhood and the past.
What about Isla Blair’s performance did you like?
I love Isla Blair's voice. It is so smooth.
If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?
A childhood not forgotten ..
Any additional comments?
I like the book. Also finding out what a Tiger's Wedding actually means :-)
Isla Blair's voice is melodious and lovely to listen to, and of course her reading is professional - would that all performers had her talent and sheer level of literacy. Her story takes you back to a different world - the end of the colonial era in India and the post-war world in Britain mostly before the impact of the sixties. The only reason for not giving this 5 stars is that it struck me as just a little sugary at times.
Would you consider the audio edition of A Tiger's Wedding to be better than the print version?
didn't read the book
What did you like best about this story?
the insights afforded me into another way of living yet still there be love
Which scene did you most enjoy?
aya walking the girls in the rain
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
discovering Aylas secret
Any additional comments?
kept my interest throughout
Beautifully drawn memoir of how love stretched across the years and across the world when she was sent from India to school in Britain. I loved hearing it read by Isla herself as you felt sure she was placing exactly the right emphasis and nuance on the story.