What is it like to find out you are adopted? How much worse would it be to find out on the death of your parents by way of a letter?
The Forgotten Daughter examines the life of three women, Nisha who lives in England and the recipient of the news that she was adopted. The only piece of information she has is the address of a convent in India to start the trail of why her mother gave her away. Nisha longs to know why her parents chose to bring her to England to start a new life with no knowledge of her roots. Nisha narrates her journey of discovery from a dispassionate young women who finds solace in analysing numbers to one who begins to remember some long buried memories.
In India Shilpa is a traditional Indian mother, determined that her daughter Devi abides by the familiar traditions while Devi wants to break free from her claustrophobic love. When Shilpa is admitted to hospital Devi gets to know her mother through her diary. This isn’t any old diary though, this has the notes of the dishes she has cooks interspersed with the story of her life. These recipes included are complete instructions, not just a list of ingredients so you too can have a go at recreating the food Shilpa cooked for her family.
Devi’s story of a young woman desperate to break free from the constraints of her upbringing where her culture dictates that she behave, dress and abide by traditions that she longs to leave behind.
If you want a book to savour then this is the book for you. Renita D’Silva writing means the smells, sights and sounds of life in India come to life through her brilliant descriptions. The beautiful saris the weight of the gold, the gaudy sandals that the women use to adorn themselves with shimmer on the page. The more or less constant companion of the food that Shilpa prepares will make your mouth water as the story of the three women unfolds. I have rarely read a book where the picture painted by the author is quite so vivid.
Like Renita’s debut novel Monsoon Memories, the contrast in culture of life in England compared to that in India is apparent and as the reader we get to see these first hand through the stories of Shilpa and Devi and through the eyes of Nisha who sees it as a newcomer. As the women examine their lives you get the feeling nothing will be ever be quite the same.
A quietly emotional book of discovery this is an accomplished second book to follow Monsoon Memories.
I received a copy of this book which will be published on 28 February 2014 from the publishers Bookouture, in return for this honest review.
Read my review of Renita’s debut Monsoon Memories