In book one, Umrigar captures right from the first chapter what it is to land in India and be assaulted by the sounds, sights and smells. Smita, an ex-pat journalist experiences the crush of the markets, the opulence of the city, the reality of the poverty of the slums and the intense beliefs of those around her. She experiences layers the kindness of the people with the intense national and cultural pride as she familiarizes us with the varied cultures of the people of the story she is about to tell. I appreciated that we saw the opinions of the local people, all with different backgrounds, as well as one of an American, which made it more relatable to me personally.
In book two, we get to the heart breaking story of Meena. She is a woman under the thumb of some very antiquated thinking men. Under the thumb of her brothers, she makes her first stretch for autonomy by getting a job at a local factory. The brothers feel only men should work and that she and her sister are bringing ill omens to their family. When she falls in love with a man at the factory, she is once again challenging their authority to make the match they desire. Worst of all, the man she falls for is a Muslim and they feel this is the greatest dishonor to their Hindu family. When she becomes pregnant, the brothers take justice into their own hands causing the death of Meena’s husband and her disfigurement. It is the trial of these brothers that brings Smita to India.
In book three, we see what truly brings all these characters together. Their arcs and realizations are really powerful. I really loved Mohan’s way of describing how he had been so proud of his country and “asleep” to the truth of the way some people are forced to live. He is so many of us with our heads down.
I started this one on a flight and I didn’t want to get up when the plane landed because I was so interested in the end of the story. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Thanks to Algonquin for this gifted copy. All opinions above are my own.
This one has been chosen by Reese’s book club this month, do selections like that make you more or less likely to read a book?