My daughter put this novel on my radar. I had not heard of it. It was new last fall. Finally, after seeing it everywhere, I picked up a copy at the library. I’m really glad I did.
Jaya is a journalist living in New York with her husband Patrick. Their marriage is at a crossroad now that Jaya has experienced her third miscarriage. They are both desperate to have children. The rift might be too wide to mend.
When Jaya finds that her mom’s father is dying she jumps at the opportunity to visit India. She’s not met her grandfather. Her mother has been keeping dark secrets. Jaya’s parents came to America from India as newlyweds. There is so much more she is dying to know. Why did her mother never speak of her grandfather? Why did she not go back to visit? What happened all those years ago to keep her mother away?
Jaya’s story is heartbreaking. It’s also quite open about how both a man and a woman feel about losing a child to miscarriage. But it’s more than that. Jaya takes us to a part of India most people never experience. She forces us to breathe the air, eat the food, and feel the way of life like never before. The scenes in the village are so vivid.
When Jaya arrives in her family’s village the first person she meets is Ravi, the former personal servant and confidant of her grandmother. He has sad news. Although Jaya has come quickly, alas, it is not quickly enough. Her grandfather Deepak has passed away. The careful and warm relationship Jaya cultivates with Ravi is such an integral part of this amazing novel. Deepak begins spinning stories, true stories of her grandmother’s life. You see, he was privy to it all. Keeper of the stories. And thus the novel truly begins.
Jaya’s mother, Amisha, was told upon her marriage that she was never to return to her home in India. It was part of the pact she had with her father. She kept her part, but at a high price.
Badani allows bits and pieces of the hidden story to seep onto the page, slowly, very slowly. You will find yourself wanting to peek ahead to see….. But, don’t. The answer will come in good time.
At the time Jaya’s mother lived in India, the country was occupied by the British. Even in her small village the British influence was all around them. Even to the small school where a British subject named Stephen was in charge of teaching. When he found that Amisha, Jaya’s grandmother, was wild to learn English he found a way to make it happen. Was this a safe thing?
Amisha’s husband, Deepak, is a traditional Indian man. He expects his wife to be traditional as well. Amisha desires more. Always more. She loves her sons and she evens loves her husband Deepak. However, she feels like she’s in a quagmire. She needs to learn and share her love of story. This was bound to be a problem.
Even though I found this noveI to be a bit predictable, I loved the writing. I loved the characters. And I loved the message.
I borrowed my copy from the library. We are carrying THE STORYTELLER in trade paperback at Copperfish Books.
You are going to love it.