Ever since reading Renita D’Silva’s debut novel Monsoon Memories I have been a firm follower of this author with her tales across the Indian and English cultures.
The Stolen Girl has progressed the delightful and well-structured storytelling to another level due to the huge mystery at the heart of this novel. Diya is a teenage girl, living in England with her mother Vani who works in the local Indian restaurant bringing back the smells of the spices and oils as she returns home every night. One night she tells Diya they have to move, again. Diya is far from keen having made her first proper friend but that night everything changes when Vani is accused of abducting Diya from her real mother, Aarti, as a baby.
I really enjoyed this story told from the viewpoints of Diya in the present day, Vani by letters reminiscing over her past in India and Aarti as she lays claim to the daughter she lost thirteen years before. These three narrators all build up a picture of what life was like for the two women before Diya’s birth with lavish descriptions of houses and smells, of the different ways parents express their love for their children as well as an interesting insight into how your background is critical in hierarchical India. One of the things I love about this author’s writing is that on the whole she allows her readers to infer the messages, despite Vani’s life being very different to mine, I could ‘put myself in her shoes’ not because I was told how to wear them, but rather because a picture was painted using subtle tones allowing me to empathise with the choices she made.
The plotting is superb with the pace carefully controlled with well-timed revelations from the two women placed against the confusion of young Diya who struggles to comprehend the deceptions that led her to live in England within a close-knit relationship of two with her mother. With the issue of the effects of eating disorders covered too this novel could easily have slipped into a dispiriting read with so much misery but the thread of hope that all would turn out well for Diya along with some great supporting characters meant that this was avoided.
Having now had the pleasure of reading three excellent books by this author I can’t wait to see what Renita D’Silva produces next. I’d like to thank the publishers Bookouture for the copy of this book to read in return for this honest review. The Stolen Girl was published on 12 September 2014.