Reviewed by Danielle Pullen
Exiled from her family in India for more than a decade, Shirin and her husband lead a comfortable but empty life in London.
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.
of miles away, in Bangalore, the daughter of Shirin’s brother discovers
a lost, forgotten photograph. One that has escaped the flames.
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.
Shirin is currently living with a terrible secret, one that means she is
living an unfulfilled life in the UK, rather than in her birthplace,
India. Meanwhile, eleven year old Reena unexpectedly finds an old photo
while sorting through some old belongings. She sets herself up as an
investigator and tries to unlock the secrets of the image she has found.
The two main characters in this novel are very well drawn, as are the
cast of supporting characters, understanding Vinod, menacing Prem,
family-oriented Deepak, ostentatious Anita and maternal figure Madhu.
Although the plot is not particularly difficult and the more
cryptically-minded reader will certainly solve the mystery way before it
unfolds in the narrative, this does not detract from the enjoyment of
I felt that D'Silva was very adept at evoking a sense of place. From
Shirin's typical office workplace in the UK to the family home in
Bangalore, the sights, colours and smells were all vivid. Indeed, if I
did have a note of criticism, it would be that many of the terms
describing the Indian costume and foods were lost on this UK-based
reader and I would have very much liked more description so that I could
better understand the vocabulary items.
This was a great read. An excellent first novel and, with a second novel
already in production, D'Silva's work will definitely be on my TBR pile
in the future.
I'd like to thank Oliver at Bookouture for sending us an ecopy of Monsoon Memories to review.