On first opening this
book, I was curious about what would unfold. I was drawn into an
unfamiliar society where forms of address were strange but easily
classified into the formal, the respectfu , the familiar and
affectionate, even if the reader has no idea of the actual
translation into English. The characters are drawn from the opposite
ends of the social spectrum: widowed Kamala and her intelligent
teenage son Narayan are desperately poor and live in one room with a
dirt floor, where the facilities are a cold tap in the middle of the
courtyard, no heating and a communal bathroom. She works as a
housemaid for Anand K. Murthy`s family: they live in a lavish house
on the outskirts of Bangalore. Anand is the owner of a factory,
Cauvery Auto, which makes pressed metal body car parts. He has
married well, has a daughter and a young son and so is considered to
be both rich and successful, at least to those on the outside.
Kamala wants the best for
Narayan. She wants him to have a private education which will lead to
a respectable job: she herself wants a better life for herself too.
She will go to the utmost lengths of honest human endurance to attain
these objectives. Unfortunately, her employer`s wife, Vidya, is not
of a stable disposition and holds her staff`s present and futures in
her hands. She follows the latest trends in the Westernised “beau
monde” and has the money to do so. She is the victim of caprice and
is the scourge of her staff: stolid Kamala, lazy Thangam and
ill-tempered Shanta, the cook.
himself has plans to expand the factory and he has a Japanese company
interested in his product. In order to do so, Anand needs to purchase
more land but does not want, nor can he afford, to go the way which
is normal in modern India – that of the culture of political
backhanders, corrupt payments and bribes to obtain what you require.
Must he accept the help of his high-handed, high-living but not so
high-minded father-in-law, Harry Chinappa? Does he go with the
Landbroker, an honest and knowledgeable dealer in land purchase? And
should he allow his nascent feelings for the captivating and
sympathetic Kavika, confidante of Vidya, to develop, or stay with
his wife for the sake of the family honour?
This is a delightful and
engrossing insight into the struggles of ordinary people in today`s
Indian society. Lavanya Sankaram weaves the destinies of her
characters through their aspirations, their struggles with the old
ways embodied by Anand`s father and by his right-hand man at the
factory, Ananamurthy, and the attitudes emerging from the growing
economy of modern India. She immerses the reader in a culture which
is sometimes alien to our own and yet also disturbingly (I find)
familiar. A fascinating book by an observant and delightful author.
Review by Liz
Thank you to Tinder Press for sending us a copy to review.
You can find out more about Tinder Press and their upcoming titles here: http://www.headline.co.uk/Articles/TinderPress/WelcometoTinderPress.page