Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Guest Book Review: Renita D'Silva - Monsoon Memories

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.

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.

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 the story.

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. 

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