It's been a while since I wrote here. And how I missed you all! It was a nice long weekend that I enjoyed to the hilt with a bunch of good friends. Moreover, with some cooking and stuff at home, writing took a back seat. Coming back to writing is like meeting a long lost lover, you realize how much you missed it only when you actually come face to face with it!
I was dead tired recovering from the past few days that I spent my time reading couple of books. The book I'm going to be reviewing today is Monsoon Memories by Renita D'Silva. I had read this one before the weekend started but got to writing this review only now. Though I'm a person who writes reviews as soon as I'm done with it, coming back to reviewing it later is something that I rarely do. But it would be a crime if I don't write about this beautiful novel. Yes, the book exceeded my expectation and I was drenched with rain soaked memories when I was finished with it.
From the book cover: “English rain smelt and tasted of nothing at all. It had none of the fury, the passion of the monsoons. Instead, it was weak; half-hearted.”
Exiled from her family in India for more than a decade, Shirin and her husband lead a comfortable but empty life in London. Memories of her childhood – exotic fragrances, colours, stifling heat and tropical storms – fill Shirin with a familiar and growing ache for the land and the people that she loves. With the recollections though, come dark clouds of scandal and secrets. Secrets that forced her to flee her old life and keep her from ever returning.
Thousands of miles away, in Bangalore, the daughter of Shirin’s brother discovers a lost, forgotten photograph. One that has escaped the flames.
Determined to solve the mystery of an aunt she never knew, Reena’s efforts will set in place a chain of events that expose the painful trauma of the past and irrevocably change the path of the future.
An unforgettable journey through a mesmerizing, passionate land of contrasts- and a family whose story will touch your heart.
My take: The novel, for the major part alternates between Shirin and Reena, giving the reader ample information on both their lives. I loved the way the story was narrated, from both a woman and a eleven year old girl's perspective. Reena is at a confused stage where she is not a child anymore but on the brink of adolescence. Shirin, meanwhile though settled in London with a high flying career is still battling her own demons that refuses to leave her.
In addition to the two protagonists, there are a lot of other lovable characters, who despite their flaws have one thing in common- love for their family. Be it Shirin's husband Vinod- the patient husband, Preeti and Deepak- who are the ideal parents to Reena or Madhu- the one person who though not related to the family plays an important role in their lives.
Monsoon Memories, true to its name, ensures that you are left with a bout of nostalgia even beyond the pages. If you have grown up in India or more specifically South India, you can relate to each and every word that's written. Be it the monsoons, the mouth watering delicacies, coconut trees, the joy of discovering something old, visiting your parent's old house that they grew up in, the book has it all.
Being a debut novel, I was amazed at the way Renita has weaved the story so effortlessly. Spanning across London and India, the story is rich in prose and description. I could feel for Shirin's pain, Reena's dilemma, Vinod's helplessness. This is not just the story about a family, it is a lot more than that. The emotions evoked by the author through her words are absolutely brilliant.
I do not want to say more about the story as it would take the suspense away while reading it. But what I can say is this- you will not regret spending your time over this one. In a time when debut novels are coming out by the dozen each month, I know for sure that this is one author whose remaining works I shall look forward to. She has already written couple more books and I'm waiting to get my hands on those as well.
The sights and smells of monsoon lingers throughout the novel making you feel nostalgic for home. This one definitely deserves a four stars on five for a well edited, beautifully narrated story that is to be applauded even in its simplicity.