How much would you sacrifice to save your family?
1929. When a passionate love affair threatens to leave Lucy in disgrace, she chooses a respectable marriage over a life of shame. With her husband, coffee plantation owner James, she travels to her new home in India, leaving her troubled past behind her.
Everything in India is new to Lucy, from the jewel-coloured fabrics to the exotic spices. When her path crosses that of Gowri, a young woman who tends the temple on the plantation’s edge, Lucy is curious to find out more about her, and the events that lead her to live in isolation from her family…
Now. With her career in shatters and her heart broken by the man she thought was her future, Kayva flees from bustling Mumbai to her hometown. A crumbling temple has been discovered in a village nearby, and with it letters detailing its tragic history – desperate pleas from a young woman called Gowri.
As Kavya learns of Gowri and Lucy’s painful story, she begins to understand the terrible sacrifices that were made and the decision the two women took that changed their lives forever. Can the secrets of the past help Kavya to rebuild her life?
A breath-taking journey through the rolling hills of India, deep into the secrets hidden within a family. For fans of Santa Montefiore, Dinah Jefferies and Victoria Hislop.
Heartrending... beautiful... a dream...
Oh my! Having just finished reading this fabulous book, my emotions are all over the place and I fear that no combination of words can express exactly my thoughts and feelings, how much I enjoyed being immersed in this story. I did not just love this book, I actually LIVED it. 'A Daughter's Courage' is one of the most beautiful books I've ever read.
This book is set mostly in India with a few chapters set in the UK. The main characters are four women unknowingly bound together across time and continents.
How much hurt and suffering can a person endure?
Everything starts with the discovery of an old temple in ruins, having lain hidden by overgrown vegetation in a jungle and forgotten for many decades. A child's bones are discovered on site too. Whose bones are they? For how long have they been there undisturbed? What secrets lay hidden within the temple's crumbling walls?
1920s. India. Gowri is a teenage girl whose dreams of becoming a teacher are shattered for ever when her younger brother falls seriously ill. After much prayer, the brother heals, but in exchange, following an old tradition, it is agreed that Gowri becomes a 'devadasi'. She's 'dedicated' and offered to the goddess Yellamma. A temple and a cottage are built by the landlord in honour of the goddess in a field and Gowri is practically imprisoned in this cottage alone to worship the goddess, take care of the temple, but also to serve the lecherous landlord and his friends for the rest of her life.
1920s. England. After almost bringing disgrace upon her family, Lucy is forced by her parents to marry a respectable coffee plantation owner, in order to safeguard the family's name. She leaves England to join her new husband in India starting a new life with a man she doesn't love.
Present day. India. Gavya is returning back home to her family, leaving behind her a flourishing acting career in Mumbai's Bollywood. Why is she renouncing her dream career, the most important thing in her life? What happened to her?
Present day. England. Sue is a journalist who's just lost her beloved husband. She's living in limbo at home, not knowing what to do with herself and the news she's just received.
Four different women, four different lives racked with suffering and loss, almost a century and half a world apart. Nothing seemingly common between them. And yet, through her strikingly beautiful, colourful, evocative prose, Renita D'Silva weaves a heartrending, touching story, bringing past and present together as one and mingling the lives and stories of these women together.
All characters in this book are very realistic and with the exception of one (who I wanted to murder with my bare hands) I loved them ALL. Of the four women, Gowri's is by far the most heart-wrenching story. How could someone do that to another human being? I wished I could hold her and ease her pain somehow, and believe me when I say that I suffered and cried and could almost feel her anguish.
Colours, smells and sounds burst out of each page of this book. The past and present, landscapes and people are brought to life in vivid colours and splendour. Through her flawless writing, this author always gives wings to my imagination, taking me back in time across decades and continents. India is a beautiful exotic country full of colours, magnificent landscapes, glorious food, sacred sites and rituals and honestly thanks to Ms D'Silva's magical prose, I felt as if I were there, enjoying all this. I could clearly visualise Mumbai's crazy, busy, buzzing streets full of cars and pedestrians. And closing my eyes I could almost see and hear the market place heaving with life, the vendors of fruit, vegetables, spices and flowers along the sides of the roads shouting their wares, women clad in colourful saris, cows passing languidly by, the chaotic crush of humanity in the streets. I could almost feel the oppressive heat that sticks clothes to bodies and then the relief and freshness brought by the monsoon rains.
Nature, family, food, love, passion, colours but also heartache, loss, sorrow, regrets and shattered dreams are the pillars of this fantastic read. All strong elements exquisitely portrayed by the author through her beautiful, unique prose. Some of my favourite quotes:
"Silence spreads through the gathered crowd like waves pushing outward from a stone rippling a still pond."
"In the distance dusk gently kisses the horizon, wrapping it in a rosy caress, a shawl of twilight the shade of romance, the blush on a maiden's cheek."
"Blue dress to match eyes the undulating turquoise of the lake reflecting the sky in its depths. Skin the rose-tinted cream of dawn."
'A Daughter's Courage' is a beautiful, yet heartbreaking story that made me dream with my eyes open and experience all sorts of emotions. I really loved and enjoyed it and I'm sure Gowri and the other characters will stay with me for a very long time. Highly recommended!
With thanks to Bookouture for approving my request to read and review this book through NetGalley.
Renita grew up in a picturesque coastal village in the South of India, the oldest of three children. Her father got her first story books when she was six and she fell in love with the world of stories. Even now she prefers that world, by far, to this.