The Sandalwood Tree is the story of Martin and Evie Mitchell. Martin, a veteran of WWII, returns home emotionally damaged, and Evie has difficulty relating to the man her young husband has become. When Martin wins a Fulbright Scholarship, Evie and their young son accompany him to India.
Evie is hoping that their time in India will rekindle their relationship, but instead, finds herself again shut out. Fascinated by a packet of letters Evie discovers hidden in their little bungalow, she finds herself keeping the letters secret.
Frustrated with her inability to understand Martin or to re-establish their connection, Evie becomes obsessed with researching the two young women whose letters from the 1850's intrigue her.
In 1947, India is at the cusp of partition. Nearly 100 years earlier, India was on the verge of the Sepoy Rebellion. In some ways, nothing has changed, both are dangerous and historic periods where cultures clash. Ellemark does an excellent job of setting the scene, engaging the reader in the sights and smells of India, its history and culture-- to reinforce certain similarities of these epic periods.
Martin and Evie must each learn something about themselves, about each other, and about the times they live in. Will their marriage survive what they discover?
Other reviews/ opinions: Reading Fueled by Tea, Daisy's Book Journal,
Fiction. Historical Fiction. 2011. 368 pages.