Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
William Morrow (Harper Collins)
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.