'East of the Sun' is a set in India during the beginning of the campaign to for independence from the British Empire. The protagonists are three young girls, Tor and Rose who are from a very 'well to do' background, and Viva, a young writer. The story starts prior to them taking the ship out to Bombay where Viva is hired as a chaperone for Tor and Rose.
Rose, at only nineteen, is moving to Bombay to marry a young Army Officer. A very gentile young girl, she has only met Jack on a few occasions. She is naive of life in India, married life and the relationships between men and women. Despite outward appearances, throughout the book we see Rose struggle with the sudden changes in her life and the turmoil she has to face which ultimately make her stronger.
On the opposite side, her best friend and bridesmaid Tor, is a rather loud young lady who is relishing the freedom India brings from her mother. Of all the characters in the book, Tor is the one who so often induces a cringe. However, her good nature means that you just want things to go well for her in the end.
Finally Viva is the most withdrawn of the group. Orphaned at the age of nine, she has never truly recovered despite her attempts to put on a brave face. Almost every chapter focusing on Viva makes you more and more frustrated at her self-destructive behaviour. She has such positive ambitions for her career, but withdraws from all close contact with people, especially a doctor named Frank whom she meets of the boat to Bombay and with whom she forms a bond which she doesn't want to admit.
This book isn't very fast paced, but it doesn't linger too long either. Rather it has a quite natural feel to it and I found myself eager to pick it up a read more about the lives of these three very different women. As the story progresses it is nice to watch them grow as people to the point that, when you leave them, you feel certain that they will be alright!