Book Club Night

Last evening, I met with my book club to discuss Secret Daughter, Shilpi Somaya Gowda’s debut novel.

Kavita and Jasu Merchant are a poverty-stricken Indian couple living in a society that favors boys and considers girls a burden. Having lost one daughter to infanticide, Kavita decides to take Asha,  her second daughter,  to an orphanage in Shanti. She leaves her daughter with a thin silver bracelet and the hope that she will live and experience a better quality of life.

In San Francisco, Somer and Krishnan Thakkar–she’s a pediatrician and he’s a neurosurgeon–have been unable to have a child. Krishnan asks his mother in Mumbai to arrange for the adoption of an Indian child.

The story is told from the viewpoints of the three female protagonists–Asha, Kavita and Somer–moving forward in time from 1984 to 2009. Each woman has strong feelings about motherhood and India.  As they evolve on their respective journeys, they come to appreciate that country in different ways, realizing that “Mother India does not love all her children equally.”

Gowda has effectively captured the sights, sounds and smells of India. I could easily visualize the slums of Mumbai and taste the spicy food that Krishnan and Asha craved.

An excellent read!

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