Pearls in the Ashes

Rated 4.50/5 based on 2 reviews
In 1924 Dash, the ten-year-old son of an impoverished Mongolian herder, enters a Buddhist monastery to seek a better life. Within a decade, however, the new government's brutal offensive against religion makes him the sole survivor of a bloody purge. Forced to flee his faith and all that is familiar, he must make his secular way in a country filled with the turmoil of massive change. More

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Words: 102,910
Language: English
ISBN: 9781301023127
About Shelagh Meagher

Shelagh's life has been happily unplanned. Canadian by birth but global by nature, she has lived in England, Switzerland, the United States, and—most memorably—Italy. She and her family spent seven years in Milan eating very well, soaking up beauty, and embracing Italian culture in all its crazy, non-Anglo-Saxon glory. Their adventures in renovating a dilapidated Ligurian villa are chronicled in the blog

Among many other unplanned aspects of her life, her career has included success in advertising, marketing, and landscape design as well as writing. It's safe to say she has eclectic interests.

Shelagh’s first published work was a landscape design book, The Spirit of the Garden, published by Stoddart Press in 1995. Unique at the time, the book featured exclusively local Ontario gardens, beautifully shot by the renowned John de Visser, rather than the usual English gardens impossible to replicate in our less hospitable climate. The whole project was a wonderful excuse to toddle around exploring fantastic private spaces in the company of a great photographer.

Pearls in the Ashes began as an adventure - a happenstance that seems to be a common theme in the author's life. Ever since she first saw Omar Sharif in Ghengis Khan, Shelagh longed to travel across Mongolia’s steppes on horseback. It took several decades for her to achieve that goal, but the journey led to discovering the incredible history that inspired the story.

Shelagh and her family currently reside back in her home town of Toronto, where she continues to plot more adventures.


Review by: Kathleen Schmitt on June 17, 2013 :
This story is a long narrative of a man's life in the context of Mongolia just before, to just after, the Communist rule in that country. The protagonist gains our interest as he enters a Buddhist monastery as a ten-year-old novice. When he is still a youth, he witnesses the massacre of his entire community by the Communist military; he is the only one left. The journey he subsequently makes is a coming of age story that brings him to a new life with deep and challenging love with a woman of another herder tribe in a different area of the country. Dash has two advantages: his literacy in Mongolian and Tibetan, and his considerable artistic skill. These advantages also become liabilities, because they signal to almost anyone that he is a former monk, one of the despised religion the Communist regime is trying to wipe out. The novel reads like an epic history of communal Mongolian life, an exquisite love story, and a revelatory spiritual journey in which we learn, too, as our character makes his way from terror and inaction to living fully his calling. The journey is fraught with danger and enthralling for the reader, a kind of Mongolian version of the Russian epic, Dr. Zhivago.

Shelagh Meagher includes a Mongolian proverb with each chapter, such as “From slight laziness grows great indolence; from small incidents stem serious consequences.” The author's historical research appears to be impeccable, the data emerging into beautiful, lyrical writing. She includes a bibliography and a glossary.

If you enjoy modern history and drama, I urge you to read Pearls in the Ashes.This novel is one of the best I have read this year.
(reviewed 8 days after purchase)

Review by: Jonel Boyko on March 13, 2013 :
This novel was very enlightening, giving you an interesting and in-depth look into life in another culture. I greatly appreciate the fact that the author took the time to do the research to give this novel a solid basis in fact. Without this, the storyline would have lost a great deal of its impact.

Meagher’s work is extremely well and fluently written. The flowing descriptions make it easy to visualize the world that the characters live in. The author has a way with words. She’s able to convey a scene or feeling with clarity, without using descriptions ad-nauseum. Through her words, she immerses you in the world of the characters, and sets you off on the journey of a lifetime.

The well-developed characters are very real and human, drawing the reader further and further into this world. Not only are the characters well developed, but they are also very strong individuals. It’s very hard to fathom living through the trials that some of these characters endured. This cast of characters combines to show the best and worst of humanity: compassion and prejudice.

As a whole, this is a story that although heart wrenching at times, is utterly captivating. Parts of the story really made me smile, feeling content and peaceful. It is a very thoughtful work, without being overly dense that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Please note that I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review
(reviewed 46 days after purchase)

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