Friday, April 12, 2013

The India Fan by Victoria Holt

Victoria Holt got me through college. Her romantic suspense novels were just the kind of escapism reading that I needed to relax myself after a hard day of studying environmental engineering. I have read and own almost all of her novels, but do have a few left that I need to read. At that time, I found most of her novels at antique stores and used book stores, my favorite hunting ground. I was more than a little bit excited to see that Sourcebooks is starting to republish some of Holt’s fiction. I hadn’t read the India Fan yet so I was very happy to review it.

The India Fan is a typical Victoria Holt novel. It is a romantic suspense novel with Gothic undertones set during the Victorian era. While the novel starts off in England, there are trips to exotic locals such as India (and France – can I call that exotic?). Drusilla Delany is the rector’s daughter, plain, practical, and smart. She found herself drawn to the Framling Family, the local aristocrats. Lady Harriet believes that Drusilla is a good influence on her beautiful, bold, and reckless daughter, Lavinia Framling. Drusilla finds herself more interested in the handsome heir, Fabian Framling. Fabian kidnapped her when she was a baby and kept her for his own for two weeks. Since then, they both have felt drawn to each other as they have grown up.

The India Fan does not have one main mystery as other Holt novels do. The intrigue in this novel basically dealt with two items. Lavinia herself leads a reckless life that is self-absorbed and full of men. She gets into various scrapes and Drusilla has to help her lead her way through them. The other main mystery is the India Fan itself. The Framlings have a spinster Aunt Lucille that lives in a wing of their family estate. Drusilla steals a beautiful peacock fan from the wing under Fabian’s orders during a childhood game. Lucille tells Drusilla that she is now cursed with bad luck as she has been an owner of the fan. Lucille tells Drusilla her tragic love story. Drusilla does not believe in the curse, but as she grows older and has a string of bad luck, she starts to wonder. After she accompanies Lavinia to India, the India Fan takes on an entirely new and sinister connotation.

Drusilla has three different love interests in the India Fan, but there is one dark and brooding love interest overall. It was interesting to see how she was not the flashy woman that all of the men were after, but the woman that would be their intellectual equal and helpmate.

The only problem I had with this novel was that it had slightly racist undertones. Basically the way the English people think about and treat the native Indian people is not so nice. Is it accurate to the time, yes. It is a bit jarring now in our time of political correctness, yes. It did not impede my enjoyment of the novel overall, but I thought I would mention it.

Overall, I enjoyed The India Fan and thought it was a great story. It rekindled my interest in Victoria Holt novels. I hope that Sourcebooks publishes more of them. I would love to not only reread my favorites, but also track down the handful that I have not read!

Book Source: Sourcebooks Review Copy – Thank-you!


  1. I also read and really liked this one. And I hope that Sourcebook does release more of her books.

  2. I'm glad it's not just me! Hopefully Sourcebooks hears this and keeps releasing her novels. I liked this one, but there are so many more great Holt novels. It's been awhile since I read them now so it would be good to revisit and find the few I haven't read yet.

  3. I read tons of Jean Plaidy novels in high school but I never reading very many Victoria Holt novels. I am glad to be getting the chance to read some of these now!

  4. Marg - I was the opposite. I read a lot of Victoria Holt novels, but not too many Jean Plaidy. I still have a LOT of Jean Plaidy novels to discover.

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