BOOK REVIEW – A Mother’s Secret by Renita D’Silva

A Mother's SecretMany thanks to NetGalley and Bookouture for my advance copy of this book in return for an honest review. It is due for publication on 7 April 2016.

This is a beautifully written book that takes you on a journey into India both past and present, and into the intricacies and complexities of traditions and long-held customs. Alternating between the voices of Durga, sent to live with her ajji (grandmother) while her parents recuperate after an accident; Jaya, mourning the loss of her baby boy Arun to cot death, and struggling to maintain her relationship with her husband, Ben; Kali, who fluctuates between the past and the present; and Sudha, Jaya’s mother who has passed away, leaving Jaya with a sense of loss and of too much left unsaid and misunderstood.

Durga arrives in the village of Gaddehalli, scared and apprehensive after learning that she is actually going to stay in an old ruined mansion, rumoured to be haunted, and frequented by a mad-woman! She’s already lived most of her young life labelled as being difficult, rude and disruptive – she doesn’t need this added complication to add to her misery. But she’s surprised to find that her ajji is not what she expected, and neither is Kali, the misunderstood landlord’s wife who discovered that life as the overseer was not what she expected it to be, and that true love could not easily be replaced.

Meanwhile, in London, Jaya is trying to deal with the loss of her baby son to an inexplicable cot death. The loss has created a distance between her and Ben, her husband, and has led to many questions surrounding her relationship with her own mother who she feels died at too young an age. Why did she feel that her mother never quite connected with her? She knew that she was loved, but why then did she always feel kept at arm’s length, and why did her mother never share the details she so desperately needed to know about her father or her family?

How is Jaya connected to the old ruin in Gaddehalli? Renita D’Silva skilfully weaves an enthralling tale, neatly bringing her characters together. In so doing, she manages to seamlessly incorporate love, betrayal, disappointment, heartbreak, deceit and victory. This is a wonderful, evocative story that readers will easily embrace and enjoy.

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