Monday, October 24, 2022

Monsoon Summer by Julia Gregson ~ Book Review

Kit Smallwood is a nurse who took care of soldiers during World War II.  But suffering from the exhaustion of it all and the mental turmoil of a secret she carries from the war, she goes to a family friend's farm in Oxfordshire to rest and recuperate.  Her friend is busy setting up a charity which would send midwives to South India to train Indian midwives in more modern methods and she encourages Kit to consider going.  Kit's mother has a painful Indian past and when Kit becomes involved with an Indian man training to become a doctor who stays at the farm for a short while her mom is beside herself.   Kit and Anto fall deeply in love very quickly and and not really thinking through the cultural differences in their backgrounds the two wed filled with hope for the future but without her mother's blessing.  But when they move to India where Anto wants to practice and Kit decides to work for the midwife training school, the pair are met with conflict wherever they turn.  Even as she became estranged from her mother because of her marriage,  Kit also is met with suspicion and disapproval from Anton's family, especially Anto's mother who is very traditional.  To top it off, India has just won independence from Britain and her British presence isn't too welcome in the community especially in the context of teaching their women British ways.  Thrown into the midst of having to learn traditional Indian culture and walking delicately within the family and facing a job that is very tense, Kit soon finds trouble plaguing her from every direction.

I am always drawn to stories set in India and that is why I picked this book up years ago.  It has sat in my stacks until finally this year it made it to the top to meet one of my reading challenge goals.  I don't know why I waited so long.  While it did start a bit slow it evolved into a story I ended up loving.  I thought the author did a great job in growing her characters through the story and in presenting the glaring differences in post war Britain and traditional India.  I also thought the tensions that were present in India towards Britain and British citizens as they tried to get on their feet after hard won independence was well told and incorporated into the story.  Wrapped in a family saga the author was able to explore the Indian midwife history and how caste plays a part in that, racism, British/Indian tensions, tradition and modern clashes, fitting in, love, betrayal and forgiveness.  The up and down relationships that encompasses Kit's life kept me engaged in how real the author wrote them.  I thought this a wonderful story that opened my eyes to a lot of things.

I rated it a 9.5/10

Reading Challenge Goals Met:  Read a book that has a summer vibe to it (August prompt), Read Your Shelf Challenge


Deb J. in Utah said...

This does sound very good! I have never seen the book or anything by the author around here, but I will keep my eyes open. Maybe the library has is. Thanks for the review.

Faith said...

sounds good! I've never heard of this book ORthe author. Thanks for a good review!