Simran Mehta is pursuing a master’s in psychology at Columbia but loves writing, enough that she’s recently published a book of essays. When New York Times columnist Neil Desai shows up at her book party, he sparks disorder in Simran’s life by strengthening her confidence in herself as a writer but has her questioning her commitment to her fiancé Kunal, a medical student. Her mother Nandini, is a doctor but was raised traditionally under Indian culture, including her arranged marriage and acceptance of the demands put upon her by her husband’s extended family. She and Simran clash frequently as she attempts to guide her into more acceptable behaviors. But her own mother, Mimi Kadakia who lives in India, is more supportive of Simran’s independent nature and gives counsel to both as they try to find a peaceful connection.
One of my reading goals is to broaden my understanding of different cultures and when I first saw this title, I got excited because it appeared to be just what I was searching for in learning more about the modern Indian woman. This story far surpassed my expectations since it provided the perspectives of three generations of women who all were grappling with cultural demands in current times as well as their own private hopes and desires. These are complicated women who are smart, talented and insightful. Simran is a modern Indian woman but straddles the cultural conventions and her own independence, trying to figure out what’s really her own choices versus those from conditioning. Nandina is truly an enigma with a secret past that has somehow formed who she is today, a seemingly contradiction. Mimi is the catalyst who forces the three of them to communicate more honestly with each other and themselves.
I loved this story and appreciated how much I learned about authentic Indian culture from women’s perspectives in these well defined characters. It took a bit to engage me because I was immediately thrust into a world that was somewhat confusing. However, it didn’t take long for me to adapt and appreciate that beginning. I chose to listen to the story, which was ideal for me as the narrator elevated the story through her skill at accents, storytelling and pacing. I always knew which of the three points of view was in focus as each was given a distinctive voice that seemed to fit well. I also loved the ending, not perfect but right for the characters and the story. This was a wonderful listening experience and an extraordinary debut. I’m definitely in for the next book.
- Release Date: July 14, 2020
- Narrator: Soneela Nankani
- Audio Length: 12 hours, 37 minutes
- Publisher: Penguin Audio
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(Thanks to Penguin Random House Audio for my complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.)