‘You were adopted’.
Three simple words, in a letter accompanying her parents' will, tear Nisha’s carefully ordered world apart. Raised in England, by her caring but emotionally reserved parents, Nisha has never been one to take risks.
Now, with the scrawled address of an Indian convent begins a search for the mother and family she never knew and the awakening of childhood memories long forgotten.
The secrets, culture and people that Nisha discover will change her life forever. And, as her eyes are opened to a side of herself she didn’t know existed, Nisha realizes that she must also seek answers to the hardest question of all – why?
Weaving together the stories of Nisha, Shilpa and Devi, The Forgotten Daughter explores powerfully and poignantly the emotional themes of motherhood, loss and identity – ultimately asking the question of what you would do out of love for your children?
I thought I've read and enjoyed all books written by the amazing Renita D'Silva, until I was browsing my kindle library and found this little gem among the many books waiting patiently for their turn to be read. Yes, Christmas has come earlier than usual for me this year. I felt happy as I knew that I was in for a treat, and in fact this was yet another mesmerising experience that I'll keep close to my heart for many years to come.
'The Forgotten Daughter' is a beautiful story about a family torn apart by tragic circumstances. After Nisha's parents die in a fatal car crash, she learns that she wasn't their natural daughter, she was adopted. A few lines in a letter left to her by her parents are enough to turn Nisha's life upside down. She realises that all that she thought she knew, all that she was told, was just a bunch of lies. Her whole life was nothing but one huge lie. All of a sudden, as her life begins to crumble, long forgotten snippets of memories, images and even smells start to invade her conscious mind and her dreams. What do these mean? From where are they coming? Who is she? Who are her real parents? Where are they? Are they still alive? And why did they give her away? She wants to know everything, she wants all these questions and many others answered.
Across the globe, in India, Devi is going through a very difficult time. Her mum is in hospital fighting for her life. Due to her rebellious nature, Devi's relationship with her mum has always been strained at best. Now, feeling terrible for how she has always behaved, she seeks comfort by reading her mother's diary, going back in time and getting to know the woman her mother was before she was born, learning about her father, whom she has never met. She thought she knew her mother, knew everything about her, but through her mother's written words, she begins to uncover unimaginable secrets. All of a sudden, her mother's behaviour, her suffocating love, words and actions begin to make sense and all the dots begin to be joined together to form a picture. She also finds it therapeutic writing letters to her mother. Letters in which she pours her heart out, telling her mother her own secrets, experiences and feelings in the hope that her mother will soon be able to read them. Will mother and daughter finally be able to understand each other? Will they have the chance to start anew?
Well, as I was expecting, thanks to her beautiful, evocative writing, the author took me on another emotional, heart-warming and tear-jerking journey spanning decades and continents. Ms Silva's magnificent descriptions are alive, stimulating the senses, making the reader feel, see, taste, smell and hear all that is taking place in the story. I could clearly visualise everything with my mind's eye. The chaos of the Indian cities, the women in the colourful saris, the buses full to bursting with passengers, the damp, intense heat, the sweat, the sweltering sun, the dry red mud, the palm fronds swaying in the breeze, the nuns' kind faces. It was as if I was there living it all, in the places she so skilfully describes, interacting with the lifelike characters. I don't like to use this term in my reviews but yes, I could not put this book down and as I was reading, my emotions were all over the place. I wanted to know how it will all end, what will happen to the three women. Will their dreams come true? There were times in which I wanted to cry, others in which I wanted to shout and throw the kindle against the wall at the injustice of it all. There were also lovely moments in which I wished I was really there, one of the characters.
Chapters are written from the point of views of the three women, Nisha, Devi and her mother Shilpa and by the end, I've come to love all three of them. All three women have gone through some challenging times in their lives and I wished I could give them a hug and help them in some way. I wished they were true characters and that I form part of their lives. I already miss them!
'The Forgotten Daughter' is a brilliant book and I really loved and enjoyed it. It has certainly given me a short break from the adrenaline-pumping thrillers I usually like to read. A huge well done to the author, Ms Renita D'Silva, who once again made me dream with my eyes open, imagining this beautiful exotic country that is India. A colourful country of extreme contrasts, of many languages, religions, diversities and delicious food.
This book is really a work of art, or should I say 'a work of heart' and I highly recommend it.
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'.