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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
William Morrow (Harper Collins)
ISBN: 978-0061974304
Published March 1, 2010
Trade Paperback, 352 pages

I want to say from the onset that this book is one of my favourite reads this year. The story touched me in ways I had not expected. I just finished turning the last page and wiping tears from my eyes. If I were to describe this novel in a nutshell, it would be to say it is a celebration of motherhood, with all its complexities, losses and enduring love. If you enjoy character-driven stories about families with an added exotic element, don't hesitate to delve into this one.

Somer and Krishnan, two American doctors, decide to adopt a child from India, after discovering they will never have one of their own. Asha is the baby Kavita gives away to an orphanage to save her from the cruel fate of death at the hands of her poor family who see only the birth of a son as advantageous since he will eventually sustain the family rather than a daughter who will burden them with a dowry.

Secret Daughter is two stories meshed in one and each is told with alternating chapters. The story flows smoothly, and I have to admit I loved the Indian one better but once the story took off, I loved them both. The author managed the amazing feat of simultaneously showing the beauty and the ugliness of India, its people and its culture. This, in part, was the strength of her writing. She laid things bare but never disclosed too much. And although there is much sadness in this novel, it is not morose but hopeful and compelling. I savoured every page.

As a mother, both the characters of Kavita and Somer moved me. Kavita for her enduring strength and loyalty to her family and Somer for her growth as a person. This is a beautiful story, well-told, inspiring, and truly moving!

On May 19, I will be attending a lecture by Shilpi Somaya Gowda as she relates her inspiration for this novel. I am really looking forward to this event!

I will count this book toward the following challenges: Reading the World Challenge

Disclosure: I bought this book at Costco and was not told how to rate or review this product.


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13 comments :

  1. Lovely review, Laura. :) I'm a bit jealous that you get to go see the author and hear her story! How fun!

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  2. Very nice review! (much better written than my own). As you read, Somer .. didn't like her except toward the end, but KAVITA ... totally loved her.

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  3. I have heard this is such a great read so I had to buy it. How cool is it that you get to attend a lecture by the author.

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  4. I had been curious about this book and now really want to read it. Please let us know about how the lecture goes.

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  5. Wow, talk about high praise! What a treat that you'll get to meet the author soon!

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  6. I will write up a future post about the lecture evening with the author. It should prove interesting.

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  7. I got this one from MRS Q on my b day. IS she coming to MTL??? Where is the venue??

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  8. @Aisle B
    You can find the info for the author event at this post:
    http://nouveauwriter.blogspot.com/2011/04/current-and-upcoming-literary-events-in.html
    I hope to see you there!

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  9. What a nice review Laura. I do want to read this book.

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  10. I really enjoyed this one, too. I'm a sucker for adoption stories, being an adoptive mom, and SECRET DAUGHTER just hit the spot for me. I'm glad you enjoyed it as well!

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  11. What a great lecture that must have been. Really enjoyed this book.

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  12. I too read this book this year.. As an indian I cannot agree more with the way the author has pictured India.. There has been an opinion that it was much biased towards feminism, but when read fully we can see that characters take wild twists (jasu regrets the death of their daughter, krishnan understands somer, etc). And though bitter I have to say, that to some extent, India is a male chauvinistic country. It was a beautiful novel and though costly in India, worth every rupee.

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