This is definitely an emotionally charged and heartbreaking novel that reads so fast, you’ll be sad that it’s over. I can see why Sunjeev Sahota is on the Booker Prize List for 2021.
Having a dual timeline in 1929 and 1999, Sahota weaves a tale he’s pulled from his family history masterfully, and blended it into this novel where one can’t tell what’s family history and what’s just story.
I could not get enough of 15 year old Mehar and all of her headstrong exploits to figure out which of 3 brothers she is married to. After all, when you have 3 brides and 3 grooms all in the same place, and the 3 grooms happen to be brothers, and as a female you are made to wear a veil to cover your face from strange men, and then your newly acquired mother in law is arranging when marital relations happen by keeping brides in one room, her sons in their rooms, and marital relations assigned by Mai, the mother in law, in the dark kept China Room… I can see where confusion could occur quite quickly!
I also loved the parallels between the modern story- where Mehar’s great-grandson has come from England to Punjab to recover in seclusion on the family farm, only to find that he is sleeping in the same room (prison more like) that his great-grandmother was kept in- and the historical one.
Both great-grandmother and great grandson seem plagued by the same ties of being secluded, being in love, and all the youthful mistakes one makes when those things occur. They also both are affected by changing political climate with the Free India Movement gaining momentum in the 1929 story and with the blaming of immigrants for the economic troubles happening in the UK.
This novel is boiled in heartbreak and steeped with tension. It’s a tale of family, deceptions, choice and consequence, as well as the unique ability humans have to break free of imposed imprisonments of both the body and mind. It’s a love story. It’s a cautionary tale. It’s a glimpse of the treatment of women in cultures outside your own. This has it all.
I highly recommend this well written novel. A 4 out of 5 star read, and one not to miss.
As always, thank you for reading my review, and happy reading my friends! I hope your next read is phenomenal! I’d love to have you join along in all my book review as well as book art fun!
Happy reading my friends! May your next read be phenomenal!