Saturday, May 27, 2023

Independence by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni ~ Book Review

Three sisters: Priya, Deepa and Jamini, live in 1940's Bengal, India.  Their father is a well respected doctor who has a clinic in Calcutta and he is known for helping the poor.  Sometimes the girl's mother resents the fact that they are not living the well to do life of a doctor who charges normal fees but Nabakumar has a heart for those who are suffering.  The sisters are as different as sisters can be.  Priya is smart and driven to become a doctor even though in her culture and time it is an uphill climb.  It is assumed that she will marry her childhood love, Amit. Deepa just want to be married and have a family.  But when she meets and falls in love with a Muslim man her life will take turns she never could have imagined.  Can her love of this man be enough for the losses of culture, family, community and way of life that will come if she chooses him? Jamini, is the youngest,  has a small handicap, but is dedicated to family and helps her mother make quilts to sell.  She longs to be loved but doesn't hold out a lot of hope to be married because of her physical limitations.  She holds a secret very close to her heart that she cannot let be known.   Life changes for everyone when India experiences violent uprisings as they try to gain independence.  The girls once peaceful home is no longer a refuge when the fighting starts to encroach.  And they must all make decisions they never thought they would face. When the partition of India happens where India went to the Hindus and Pakistan to the Muslims they become separated, not just in distance but in paths for their lives.

I am always drawn into stories set in India and this historical novel didn't disappoint.  It captured me from the beginning and was interesting right until the end.  Set in the time of India's fight for independence and the resulting dividing of the Hindus and Muslims, the story had me learning of something I knew not a lot about.  The sister's relationships was relatable and moving as they had to navigate their changing world which was at points exciting and filled with hope and other times scary and devastating.  Their love of family, their courage shown in different ways was wonderful to read but their characters were also very real in their flaws and family drama.  The only thing I didn't like had nothing to do with the story and more of a style of punctuation where the author (or editor?) chose not to put commas into lists of things.  For example from page 164:  "Tonight will bring the moment so many, including her father, had longed for fought for died for."  At first I thought it was editing error but it happened numerous times through out the story so I realized it was a chosen style in the book.  In spite of that, once I got used to it, the story wasn't hindered by it all.

I gave it a 10/10

2023 Reading Challenge Goal Met:  A book a month from my library TBR list.


Deb J. in Utah said...

Hi Susanne. This sounds like a fascinating book. I'll have to look for it. Thanks for the review.

Chitra Divakaruni said...

Thanks for this great review!
Chitra Divakaruni

Faith said...

This sounds like one I would like. RIght now I have 4 library books, a book a work colleague gave me and a book written by my best friends daughter to read!! But I'm going to look for this at our town library once my 3 from there are done. thanks for the review!!