Zemindar by Valerie Fitzgerald: A Classic Re-issued

This post was prompted  by a recent one from Sarah at  Reading the Past entitled Two New and Substantial Historical novel reissues: Zemindar and Csardas. I've not read Csardas by Diane Pearson, but Zemindar by Valerie Fitzgerald is an old favourite of mine and I'm so pleased that this classic is being re-issued. My copy, a 1982 Bantam edition, is well used as I re-read this novel regularly and it is definitely in my pile of "keepers". I've even included it in my list of books for The Re-read Challenge 2015.

In her post Sarah links to a newspaper article and a radio interview. The interview with Valerie Fitzgerald, who is now in her eighties, is very interesting. In it she explains why there were no more novels after Zemindar. A shame, but life took her in other directions.

Cover: 1982 Bantam Paperback
From the back cover:

A magnificent love story unfolds against a backdrop of exotic splendour and stirring deeds as young Englishwoman Laura Hewitt journeys to the East – and to the fabled fiefdom of the Zemindar, Guardian of the Earth.

He is Oliver Erskine, the hereditary ruler of his private kingdom, commander of his own native army – and brother of the man she loves.

Subject of Britain’s Queen, but also a son of India, he walks the tightrope between treason to the Crown and betrayal of his own beloved land.

Challenging Laura to discover “the real India”, he guides her through a world both beautiful and dangerous, lit with splendour and torn by despair.

Laura is alternately bewitched and repelled by Oliver’s world – and by the Zemindar himself: arrogant and demanding, lustful and compassionate, tender and persuasive. He infuriates her, invades her soul – and claims her as his own. Then, as a tidal wave of rebellion engulfs even the enchanted reaches of Oliver’s estate, Laura is forced to confront her own divided loyalties, her own mutinous heart.

Not since The Far Pavilions has a novel so captured the essence of the fabulous East; not since Gone With the Wind has there been a love story so intense and so memorable.
Cover: 2015 Head of Zeus Paperback
From the back cover:

An epic love story, in the tradition of The Far Pavilions set during the Indian Mutiny.

From M M Kaye's The Far Pavilions to Julia Gregson's East of the Sun the Indian Raj has been a rich source of bestsellers. Zemindar is one of the greatest ever written.

A magnificent, twisting, turning love story unfolds against a backdrop of exotic splendour as Englishwoman Laura Hewitt accompanies her cousin and fiance, first to Calcutta and then to the fabled fiefdom of Oliver Erskine, Zemindar - or hereditary ruler - of a private kingdom with its own army.

But India is on the verge of the Mutiny, which will sweep them all up in its turbulence. Not one of them - not even the Zemindar himself - will remain unchanged by this violent rebellion against the Raj.

 Zemindar  won the Georgette Heyer Historical Novel Prize in 1981. The jury that year included none other than M.M. Kaye herself.

What more can I say about this wonderful book? If you like exotic settings, history and a strong hero and an equally strong heroine then grab a copy. You won't be disappointed.


  1. I hadn't realized that M. M. Kaye was on the jury for the Georgette Heyer prize that year. It's great to know that Zemindar met with her approval. (Far Pavilions is another I keep meaning to read, although I've read other books of hers.)

  2. Far Pavilions is on my reading wish list too, as is Shadow of the Moon.