By Jane Hardin
New Dawn Publishers, $10.99, 252 pages
In this invented replay of Louisa May Alcott’s classic young adult novel, four teenaged sisters – literary Catherine, artistic Elizabeth, pretty Jane and pious Fanny – lead gentile lives in a British expatriate compound in northern India. They go to social events, pine for young men of similar rank and class, and work at domesticity. Their quiet lives are suddenly shattered by the Sepoy Mutiny, a violent rebellion that erupts in 1857. While their parents are away, an especially bloody conflict between native Indian and East India Company soldiers erupts and the May sisters must hurriedly escape into the rural countryside. After several months in hiding, the girls rejoin family and friends, matured by their adventures and stronger and more independent than when they fled. Traces of colonialism, history, culture, romance and suspense fill each of the short chapters. Literature professor and first-time author Nardin channels Alcott and Jane Austen in this easy-to-read piece of light historical fiction.
Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen