India, 1926: Margaret is in love, with her new husband and her new home, a sprawling villa amidst beautiful rolling hills, the air filled with the soft scent of spices and hibiscus flowers. Yet she’s unwelcome with the locals and grows close to Archana, her maid, who reminds Margaret of the beloved sister she lost in the great war.
Overjoyed with her pregnancy, Margaret could stay forever, sipping tea, chatting with Archana, painting in the sun beside the stream full of water lilies. But when Archana finds herself in danger and Margaret makes the choice to save her, she doesn’t realise the devastating consequences that will tear her and Archana apart, destroy her marriage, and haunt her for the rest of her life...
England, 2000: Emma’s relationship is falling apart, and her beloved grandmother, Margaret, is dying. Margaret has one last request: find Archana. It’s the first time Emma has even heard the name, but desperate for an escape and to bring Margaret closure, she travels deep into the heart of the Indian hills, to a crumbling house overgrown with vines, searching for answers.
The more Emma learns, the more she sees of herself in her grandmother, and the stronger her need to uncover Margaret’s secret. But if she finds Archana and the truth is finally revealed – the story of a day spent painting by a stream, and a betrayal that tore three lives to pieces – can it help each woman find peace or are some rifts too deep to heal…?
"Life can change in an instant. It can turn you upside down, inside out."
Renita D'Silva's new book is a fantastic emotional journey spanning decades and continents. Warning: Make sure you have a packet of tissue in the vicinity... you'll need it!
The story is laid out in two time periods, the 1920s and the year 2000. Margaret and Archana, two women living on opposite sides of the world. Their lives couldn't be any more different and yet their paths will cross each other with tremendous, life-changing consequences.
In 2000, Margaret is an old frail lady living out her last days in a hospice in England. She has one last wish - the final request of a dying woman. She gives her granddaughter Emma the deeds of a house in India and a painting she had painted when she was young and asks her to travel to India and trace a woman named Archana. She wants Archana to forgive her for what she has done to her and for Archana to know that Margaret has forgiven her herself a long time ago. What has happened between these two women a very long time ago for them to need each other's forgiveness? What did they do? Emma is intrigued by this mystery. Her grandma has never mentioned any connection to India, she didn't like to talk about her past at all, and now all of a sudden she has been handed the keys to a mansion there. Emma wants to dig deep and grant her nana's last wish, but will she be able to accomplish her mission in time or is it already too late for Margaret to tie her last loose end?
No other author has the ability to evoke in me the kind of emotions the talented Renita D'Silva does with her books. She is one of my favourite authors and I have read and loved each and every one of her books. Her writing is just breathtaking, poetic, it's like music, and with each book she writes she succeeds in making me dream with my eyes open. As I'm reading one of her books, I can always almost see, feel, smell and hear everything she describes. I'm always impressed by her choice of words and swept away by her stories. She always takes me to India, a beautiful country I've never visited but at the same time feel I know well, thanks to her clear descriptions and crisp, melodic 'voice'.
'The Girl in the Painting' is a marvellous work of fiction as colourful as a rainbow and as delicious as the yummy Indian food described within its pages. It burns with desire, love and passion but make no mistake, it also harbours heartbreaking scenes of betrayal, scandal and shame, not to mention death. This book made me realise that nothing in life is safe or to be taken for granted, that everything can change in the blink of an eye. I also learned about a shocking Indian tradition that thankfully has now been banned and deemed unlawful. The author has once again created interesting lifelike characters that as a reader you can't not feel attracted to. By the end I felt as if I have known Margaret, Archana and Emma since forever and I found myself rejoicing, laughing and crying with them. Yes, I needed that packet of tissues!
A huge well done to the author for writing such a brilliant, mesmerising story and thanks to Bookouture for an ARC of this book which I voluntarily accepted to read and review. Highly, highly recommended!!
Renita D'Silva loves stories, both reading and creating them. Her short stories have been published in 'The View from Here', 'Bartleby Snopes', 'this zine', 'Platinum Page', 'Paragraph Planet' among others and have been nominated for the 'Pushcart' prize and the 'Best of the Net' anthology. She is the author of 'Monsoon Memories','The Forgotten Daughter', 'The Stolen Girl', 'A Sister's Promise', 'A Mother's Secret', 'A Daughter's Courage', 'Beneath An Indian Sky', 'The Girl In The Painting'.