Thursday, 7 February 2013

Cinders and Sapphires Blog Tour: An Interview with Ravi Sundaresan

I'll be totally honest, Cinders and Sapphires is one of those books I've been pumped about since I heard about the book sale. So when I was asked to join the blog tour, I jumped ALL OVER THAT.

What's Cinders and Sapphires about? Well, lemme give you the official goodreads description:

One house, two worlds...

Rose Cliffe has never met a young lady like her new mistress. Clever, rich, and beautiful, Ada Averley treats Rose as an equal. And Rose could use a friend. Especially now that she, at barely sixteen, has risen to the position of ladies’ maid. Rose knows she should be grateful to have a place at a house like Somerton. Still, she can’t help but wonder what her life might have been had she been born a lady, like Ada.

For the first time in a decade, the Averleys have returned to Somerton, their majestic ancestral estate. But terrible scandal has followed Ada’s beloved father all the way from India. Now Ada finds herself torn between her own happiness and her family’s honor. Only she has the power to restore the Averley name—but it would mean giving up her one true love . . . someone she could never persuade her father to accept.

Sumptuous and enticing, the first novel in the At Somerton series introduces two worlds, utterly different yet entangled, where ruthless ambition, forbidden attraction, and unspoken dreams are hidden behind dutiful smiles and glittering jewels. All those secrets are waiting . . . at Somerton.

I was given a few options of things I could do, so I went ahead and did a character interview because it sounded like fun. And I interviewed one of my favorite characters, Ravi!

Who is Ravi, you may ask. He's not mentioned in the description! Very true, my observant reader! Let's tell you a bit about Ravi then, hmm?

Ravi Sundaresan was born eighteen years ago in Calcutta, the son of a middle class clerk. He showed signs of exceptional intellectual gifts early in childhood, and through hard work and a stubborn refusal to accept a less rigorous education, earned a place at Oxford University. Though he is passionate about his studies, he cannot help but feel that the students who surround him do not appreciate the advantages they enjoy. The more he learns about British policies across the Empire, the greater his conviction that English rule of India must end. Deeply charismatic and hopelessly romantic, Ravi’s dreams for a better future no know bounds. However, he knows that injustice has never been conquered through inaction.

Now that you know a bit about him, let's dive into those questions, shall we?

Britain and India obviously have many differences. What was the biggest shock for you?

The biggest shock was that even with all the wealth Britain siphons from India, that they still have desperately poor people living on their streets. When you are in India you think that all English men are the same. I expected to find paradise here, the streets paved with gold. I was wrong.

What do you miss the most about India?

I miss my family. I miss the heat, and the smells, and the noise, and the food. I miss the light. Here in England the light is colder and more distant – like the people.

How is life at Oxford? Is it what you expected?

In some ways it is all I expected. It is a dream come true for me to be able to study with and learn from great intellects. But there are some students who are only here because it is the done thing. They aren’t interested in changing the world or in broadening their knowledge. To them Oxford is simply a necessary stepping stone on their way to a secure life of privilege, where they will never have to be confronted by injustice, where they will never have to fight for a better life, where they will never encounter the least thing that will shake their smug self-certainty. On bad days, I think that most of the students fall into this category.

Do you think that education should be available for more women? Why?

Of course. I have met plenty of women, and I have never noticed that they are in any way less sensible or less intelligent than men of their own class. Women are held back by a lack of education. If men do not allow them to have it, they will take it –violently, as we have seen in the case of the suffragettes.

Having now met a good number of British society, what's your overall impression from them?

I think the average Briton is much like the average Indian. They have the benefit, at least superficially, of being less divided than we are. But there are good people and bad people, intelligent people and foolish people, interesting people and less interesting people, in Britain just as there are in India. And this only reinforces my conviction that Britain has no right to rule India.

Well, there you go, lovelies. Now you know more about the mysterious Ravi and I hope that you'll be willing to pick up Cinders and Sapphires and get to know him, and all the other characters, better. Because you totally should.

--Julie 

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