Wednesday 30 March 2022

Cochin Fall by Liz Harris

1934 /1900s

Cochin Fall is a delightful and entertaining story that takes place in beautiful Cochin, South India, 1934. A story of love and misunderstandings, it will please those who enjoy romances and appreciate an ending where all is made well. 

Clara, just back from school abroad and the daughter of British business owner and trader Henry Saunders and his wife, is hoping to soon be engaged to her childhood friend, George Goddard, the son of another local British trader. Such an alliance, she knows, will be approved as it will strengthen the position of the two trading companies. Clara is also good friends with George’s sister, Lizzie, who is one of the two antagonists in the story, albeit a mild one. The other antagonist is Lewis Mackenzie, her father’s company agent and who is singly focused on financial success. The final and other significant character in the book is British diplomat Edward Harrington. The most decent and honest of all, he falls in love with Clara though recognizes that she is enamored with George. Harris does a marvelous job creating sympathetic characters whose stories demand a happy ending.  

The real enjoyment comes twofold. First, the background and setting may open up to the casual reader a world with which some might be unfamiliar. There are palm trees and rainstorms and sea-going vessels exporting local spices like pepper and cardamom. References are made to Bolgatty Palace, the residence of the local British governor; Indian servants play a background role. The story itself takes place during the British Raj, a period of British rule in India that lasted nearly 100 years from 1858-1947. Harris’ research is evident in the way she couches the story in a rich, historical context. 

Second, the reader will enjoy having a bird’s eye view of the various entanglements, all of which are rooted in misunderstandings and misguided assumptions. Characters find themselves in untenable positions. Clara cares for George, who seems to care for her, but may not really know her. Lizzie is interested in Lewis. Lewis is interested in Clara. Clara is trying to keep George’s interest, while Edward is pining for her in the background. Operating within the social expectations of the time, characters meet in public places, are accompanied by chaperones, and are thrilled by stolen kisses. It’s a tangled story of “love and war” and one that keeps the reader engaged as it’s not immediately clear how it can possibly end well. Happily, though, there is resolution. Misunderstandings are revealed and crimes accounted for. 

Readers, especially those who enjoy romances set outside of Europe or the United States, will find this an engaging story with a satisfying ending for all. 

Reviewed for Discovering Diamonds 

© Mary Cluff
 e-version reviewed

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