Exiled from her family in India for more than a decade, Shirin and her husband lead a comfortable but empty life in London. Memories of her childhood – exotic fragrances, colours, stifling heat and tropical storms – fill Shirin with a familiar and growing ache for the land and the people that she loves. With the recollections though, come dark clouds of scandal and secrets. Secrets that forced her to flee her old life and keep her from ever returning.
Thousands of miles away, in Bangalore, the daughter of Shirin’s brother discovers a lost, forgotten photograph. One that has escaped the flames. Determined to solve the mystery of an aunt she never knew, Reena’s efforts will set in place a chain of events that expose the painful trauma of the past and irrevocably change the path of the future.
Oh I've just finished reading this book and I'm struggling to find the right words to express how much I enjoyed reading it. This book is just amazing! I've read other books by the brilliant Renita D'Silva - all fabulous reads - but I hadn't yet read this book, her debut novel. Now after reading it, I can't actually believe this was her first book!!!
Through her beautiful exotic prose, this author has once again taken me on an emotional ride spanning continents. This is the story of a family divided in the name of values and honour. It is set in the UK and India - two countries that couldn't be more different.
"Her guilty secret. Her biggest regret."
Having practically escaped from her mother country, India, Shirin is now living in the UK with her husband Vinod. She has spent the last years struggling to cope with her sense of guilt and the repetitive nightmares and dreams of her past life. Overwhelmed by memories, she now longs to go back home and confront her demons. But sullying your family name is unforgivable. For her family, she's dead. What had she done to deserve this sort of punishment, to be banished away from home? Can Shirin ever be forgiven and accepted back in a family where religious and cultural values have strong roots?
"Every family has secrets... and they're there for a reason."
Back in India, we meet Reena, a young girl who finds an old photograph of a mysterious girl. Who is this girl? Why doesn't she show up in any of the other pictures? Why was the photo hidden? And why is everyone reluctant to talk about her? She's determined to find out who this girl was and so puts into practice her sharp detection skills to find this girl's identity. But Reena doesn't know that some truths are best kept hidden, buried.
The story goes back and forth in time as together with Shirin, we relive her memories. We are slowly led to one faithful night when Shirin's and all her family's lives have been turned upside down by tragedy.
All characters in the book are very realistic and I felt as if I've known them all my life. I felt sorry for Shirin, for what she has gone through. I wished I could alleviate her heartache somehow. I admired Vinod for his courage, love and determination. And I just loved little sweet Reena.
Since I was a kid, I have always dreamed of visiting India, and thanks to Ms D'Silva's vivid colourful descriptions, whenever I read one of her books, it's as though my dream comes true again and again. This author brings India's tradition, culture, sceneries, its colours, sounds, smells and even its tastes to life. Everything expertly weaved within the main plot of a poignant, heartwarming story.
I could clearly imagine the coconut trees swaying in the wind by the river, the markets bustling with life, people selling and buying fresh exotic fruits and vegetables and aromatic spices. Bright coloured-sari-clad women looking for a good bargain. Stray cows milling around in the streets blocking traffic and a thousand other things. Not mentioning the mouth-watering food and recipes the author likes to add to practically every chapter... just to make me feel hungry. I actually googled some of the food mentioned and will make it a point to try some of it next time I visit my favourite Indian restaurant.
I so loved reading this book that when I turned the last page, after going through a beautiful, beautiful tear-jerking, satisfying ending, I ended up sad. I felt so part of Shirin's family that it was as though I was going away from my family home, leaving all my loved ones behind me in India.
This book is just fabulous and I highly recommend it!
Renita D’Silva is an Indian fiction author whose work has been compared to Jodi Picoult and Diane Chamberlain. Now living in the UK, Renita grew up in a picturesque coastal village in South India. Monsoon Memories is about Renita’s own personal slice of India – the searing heat and furious monsoons – and the generous warmth of its people. Sign up to be the first to hear about Renita's new releases here: http://bit.ly/RdSilvabooks (Just cut and paste that link into your browser. You'll only be contacted when a new book is out and your email won't be shared with anyone else).