I was intrigued by the blurb when contacted by the publisher to see if I would be interested in reading this book. What follows is an unbiased review but I am really glad I was chosen to read this book that has that unique something that makes it immensely readable.
Monsoon Memories is an evocative book describing the life of Reenu, an eleven year old girl. Reenu visits her Grandmother in Taipur and finds a picture of a girl hidden in the family photo album. Having decided to be a sleuth like her heroine Nancy Drew she is determined to find out who the girl is and why she has been erased from history. Far away in England working as a programmer is Shirin, a woman haunted by the past and torn between enjoying the happy memories of her life as a child in India and being afraid of acknowledging the events that led her to leave. Between them Shirin and Reenu tell us a painful story of a family torn apart.
The heart of this story is family relationships including all the variations. The characters are brilliant; I loved Aunt Anita, Madhau the servant and the spirited Reenu. The heat of India, the monsoons and the casual poverty that surrounds the family is well described, as is the food. In fact food seemed to be mentioned continually; illustrating how important it was to the structure of the day, I found this occasionally intrusive (possibly as I haven’t eaten many of the Indian dishes described in loving detail.)
The structure of the story is measured and steady; at no point did I feel it was drawn out unnecessarily. The reader has different parts of the tale told from both Shirin’s and Reenu’s viewpoint which drew me in so that I was rooting for a happy ending for all the lovely characters, both minor and major bought to life in this book.