What if you discovered that everything you knew about yourself was a lie?
When pregnant Jaya loses her mother, then her baby son Arun in a tragic cot death, her world crashes down. Overcome by grief and guilt, she begins to search for answers – to the enigma of her lonely, distant mother, and her mysterious past in India.
Looking through her mother’s belongings, she finds two diaries and old photographs, carrying the smoky aroma of fire. A young boy smiles out at Jaya from every photograph – and in one, a family stand proudly in front of a sprawling mansion. Who is this child? And why did her mother treasure this memento of a regal family lost to the past?
As Jaya starts to read the diaries, their secrets lead her back to India, to the ruin of a once grand house on a hill. There, Kali, a mad old lady, will unlock the story of a devastating lie and a fire that tore a family apart.
Nothing though will prepare Jaya for the house’s final revelation, which will change everything Jaya knew about herself.
A Mother's Secret is a beautiful tale of love and passion, deceit and lies, secrets and memories. It is about the decisions we take in life and their consequences on ourselves and on those around us.
Every time I read a book by Renita D'Silva, I feel as though I'm transported through time, to faraway locations, dreaming with my eyes open. I also always learn new things about Indian culture and traditions.
In this book, we encounter some very strong, determined female characters - much stronger than their male counterparts actually. At times, these women made me love and admire them, at others I felt I almost hated them, but then I would imagine myself in their shoes, and end up wanting to hug them tightly to me again.
A madwoman... A cursed mansion...
Following a tragic accident, young Durga is sent to live with her 'ajji' or grandmother in a huge, ruined mansion. There lives Kali too, the old madwoman everyone fears. This woman was once a happy girl, a ruthless mistress of the house, so what made her lose her mind?
"... her mother a sealed chest of secrets, Jaya had never managed unlock."
Riddled by guilt and grief, Jaya is trying to come to terms with the loss of her mother Sudha. Jaya had never known her father and has always resented her mother's silence on his identity and on her past. Why did Sudha never divulge his identity? Who is/was he? Why aren't there any photos in their house of Jaya's father or of Jaya's first years? Who was really Sudha? Why did she shut the door on her past and never opened it again?
But now Jaya has found her mother's diaries and hopes that through her mother's writing, she could solve the riddle that was her enigmatic mother. What will she discover? What surprises will there be waiting for her? Will her questions be finally answered?
Renita D'Silva's rich and poetic prose makes reading an incredibly joyful experience. She has the ability to vividly paint scenes and describe feelings through an explosion of colours, smells and tastes that make you long to be there in the story. In Ms D'Silva's books, feelings have smells and voices have colours.
"The air that brushes Jaya's cheeks is the crushed mauve of regret, flavoured with the deep gold of yearning."
"A gentle voice, like the raindrop-jewelled breeze caressing the tops of mango trees."
"The darkness is syrupy brown, molasses thick."
I highly recommend this wonderful, emotive tale. It kept me engrossed till the end and I even missed my daily walk in order to finish it as I was desperate to find out what was this Mother's Secret.
With thanks to Bookouture for approving my request to read and review this book through Netgalley.
Renita D'Silva is the author of numerous works, including Monsoon Memories, The Stolen Girl, and many short stories. Her work has been published in Bartleby Snopes, on Paragraph Planet, and other places, and she has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Visit her at renitadsilva.com.