||BWLPP (Books We Love Publishing Partners) Canada
||Oct 22, 2010
Murdered in a previous life, two lovers meet again in India. But, in the magic land of the blue gods, their murderess also awaits...
To scatter her brother's ashes over the Narmada River, Fabienne leaves France for the mysterious India of her childhood dreams. Soon, as she awakens to a newfound spirituality, unexpected visions of a former life during the Raj stir ancient yearnings. Mukunda, the palace architect Fabienne loved over a century ago, lives again as an American Engineer and works on the local dam project. But, in the Karmic land of the blue gods, the Kali worshiper who murdered the two lovers in a faraway past also awaits...
The flames devouring the jungle muffled Lakshmi’s desperate call. She squinted through the smoke. The messenger said her beloved would be waiting by the hot springs, so where was he?
Gasping, Lakshmi steadied herself with a bloody hand against the bark of a tall banyan. She wiped the sweat from her forehead, then raised her veil to cover nose and mouth. Black clouds from the blazing jungle dirtied the blue sky of May. Coconut trees, palms, sugarcane, papaya trees and banana stalks steamed and cracked ominously under the assault of the fire.
In the mounting heat, Lakshmi hitched up the red cotton sari to run, but in which direction? Down, toward the river. In her flight, strands of black hair escaped the veil, threatening to ignite at any flying spark.
Lakshmi cried out when she stumbled. Catching herself she paused, hand on her chest. A tiger! She held her breath, while the feline rushed by silently, intent on its own escape. Beneath the girl's bare feet, the jungle ground slithered with cobras, huge rats, and burrowing insects. Overhead, birds and monkeys shrieked frantic warnings as they fled. A dark crocodile shot out of a thicket. Lakshmi gasped, but the ancient beast disappeared into the underbrush. The river should flow near, but where? The pounding roar of blood rushing through her veins covered even the sound of the inferno.
Lord Ganesh, Elephant God, do with me as you please, but keep Mukunda safe!
The stink and loud trumpeting of elephants gave the girl hope. Hunters! They’d know the way out. Relief washed over Lakshmi. I’m so grateful for your help, Lord Ganesh, but please, save the man I love. Panting, the girl labored in the direction of the sound. Thorny branches snagged her sari and scratched the creamy skin of her belly, but she kept running. When she reached the clearing, half naked slaves shouted as they gathered the Rajah's herd, jerking the animals' heavy chains.
"Help me!" Lakshmi managed to yell between gasps.
Perched atop the largest elephant, the master mahout stared at her from under a turban. A dangerous smile lit up his face. Lakshmi felt her legs dissolve when she recognized the huge garnet on the man's chest. He worshiped Kali The Black with the Rajah's daughter and her murderous priests.
Spurring the big bull forward, the mahout barked an order. The old elephant trumpeted in response, answered by his herd. Within seconds, the ground shook. Saplings shattered under the charge of the pachyderms. Bellows filled the air as the herd stampeded, tearing the burning jungle asunder.
Fear constricting her throat, Lakshmi turned to run. Her foot caught on a banyan root. "Mukunda!" she called as she fell.
Lakshmi couldn't move. Lying in black mud, she looked up and saw branches crashing down in flames. Suddenly, the wide foot of an elephant blocked the gray light and descended on her face, silencing a scream.
A vivid tale of suspense
Ashes hits the ground running into the far distant past. There's a grisly execution where elephants tear apart a young man, and his head is severed. "Mukunda's spirit, freed from his quartered body, now wscended toward me. In the pinkish light, our souls meshed and etwined in a joyous union." This is a broad-stroked, magnificent picture of a lavish India of the past and the present, and the fateful karma of an intelligent, adventurous Fabienne. In the beginning, she leaves France because of her brother's death, and finds a gradually awakened spirituality in India. Past and present mingle, and she remembers another life in which she was in love with the palace architect, Mukunda. But he is also alive inthe present in the form of an American. Also living - a dangerous complication - is the person who murdered the lovers so long ago. Quite a vivid tale of suspense. "Dressed in white with flower garlands around our necks, we each lit a torch to the Brahmin's fire burning in the temple." And there's love found: "Everything about his maleness felt new, yet so familiar. When he rose on one elbow, the regular lines of his face caught the acndelight, and my body arched toward him, longing for his contact." This is a gripping account of a woman coming to terms with heightened awareness and with the knowledge of a destiny that yields true fulfillment.
The Book Reader
A Superior Metaphysical Novel
Suppose you were instructed to leave your home in France, and trael to mysterious India. And suppose you found out you had a former life there, a hundred years ago. And a lover. And suppose you learned you were murdered and that your (then) lover exists today.
These are some of the twists and turns and revelations to be found in Vijaya Schartz' new page-turner of a novel, Ashes for the Elephant God. And if that's not enough, you will experience newfound spirituality learned from a people dating back thousands of years.
The Protagonist, Fabienne, loses her brother to AIDS. His last wish is that she go to India to find herself, and the patway to heaven where they will meet again. There she discovers that not only did she live there before (in another incarnation) but her lover, Mukunda, is now an American engineer working on the local dam project.
Ashes for the Elephant God is written (as most great books are) on many levels. Ms. Schartz offers a lesson on the culture of India, now and before. But more than that, she paints a fascinating word picture of afterlife, reincarnation, yoga, meditation, regression, the supernatural, astral projection...and more.
There is so much to learn from Ashes for the Elephant God that this reviewe cannot begin to list them all, but here is one, "...every time you ask a question, deep down you already know the answer. You just want it confimed because you donot trust your intuition."
My intuition is to heartily recommend Ashes for the Elephant God to you. Vijaya Schartz has given us an entertaining, fast-paced yet deeply spiritual look at the world, and our place in it. here is a superior metaphysical novel!
- Richard Fuller, Metaphysical Reviews.
A Magnificent Offering to the World of Fiction
A series of eerie coincidences lead Fabienne to leave France for India, where she will fulfill her brother's dying wish by scattering his ashes over the Narmada River. Plagued her entire life with fiery dreams of passion and death, Fabienne finds solace in Hindu monastic life. When Fabienne meets Mukunda, an American engineer working in India, she realizes her dreams are simply memories of a past life with Mukunda. the couple is haunted by the reincarnated form of the Queen who murdered them in their previous existence. This combined with a dangerous flood, a jungle fire, and a reincarnated elephant create a complicated web of existence, spanning centuries.
Schartz has crafted a passionate novel exploring the differences between love and lust, faith and deception. In the world created by Ashes for the Elephant God, time is a fluid concept, trading scenes of Fabienne's present existence with excerpts of her past life. The author eases the complexity of the story by presenting only two of the surely hundreds of lives led by Fabienne and Mukunda. Vijaya Schartz's writing prowess is best exemplified by the scenes protraying the couple's previous life. in those portions, the Indian jungle comes alive through fantastic third person narration. The characters existing in the present day are given even greater depth and meaning through the portrayal of their past selves.
Very much the Western approach to the Indian experience, Ashes for the Elephant God offers an unusual perspective on this fascinating culture. All three of the main characters are from Western cultures (France, America and Australia) in their pressent reality, creating a scenario where each character desperately searches for belonging in the culture of a past life. It is an interesting concept, successfully harnessing the power that the Indian culture seems to have on many Westeners. this novel is a s much a love story between Schartz and India as it is between Fabienne and Mukunda.
Ashes for the Elephant God is an artful, magnificent offering to the world of fiction, deserving of a loyal audience.
Morgan Ann Adams, The Charlotte Austin Review
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Reader Reviews for "Ashes for the Elephant God"
|Reviewed by Waheed Rabbani
Your novel, "Ashes for the Elephant God," sounds most interesting. Books with setting in India are my favorite. I think I'll order it.
Waheed (Wally) Rabbani
The Azadi Trilogy, Book I: Doctor Margaret's Sea Chest