Thursday, May 23, 2013

Book 59: The World We Found

Umrigar is one of those authors whom I always enjoy, and while the descriptions of her novels sound like they have the potential to be cliche-ridden, I'm always pleased with the end results.  In general, her novels tend to deal with difference between classes, between cultures (America vs. India), religions, and often have her older Indian characters looking back and reflecting on their teen and college years as opposed to their current positions though of course some novels focus on certain themes more than others while some address them all.  All of these themes are seen again in The World We Found.
Armaiti, Laleh, Kavita and Nishta were inseparable in college, and they considered themselves revolutionaries - they engaged in long political discussions, attended rallies, and believed in the possibility of change.  Thirty years later, they are around 49, 50 years old and lead lives far different from the ones they would have imagined for themselves.  Armaiti left Bombay, married an American and has lived there for years; Laleh is a middle to upper class housewife with a successful husband.  She still believes in the ideals of her youth but she has the benefits of the well-to-do.  Kavita gave up the struggle after on particularly humiliating event, and is now an architect who still struggles with her personal life and those secrets.  Kavita and Laleh see each other often, but the rest of the group has drifted apart and lost contact, until Armaiti is diagnosed with a brain tumor, and decides it is her dying wish to see her friends one last time.  This leads Laleh and Kavita to seek out Nishta, who had distanced herself shortly after her marriage to a Muslim.  They are surprised to find that the passionate and liberal Nishta and Isqual have both changed, with him becoming a very devout and strict Muslim, struggling financially and displaying little of the passion that once bound them together.
As the women attempt to plan their reunion, they remember their pasts, and confront the differences between who they were and who they have become.  They also question why they drifted apart, finally confronting long held secrets and beliefs that have led to their estrangement, realizing how trivial some of the matters that have influenced their lives truly were.
I think my favorite one of hers is still The Space Between Us, but I would certainly recommend this one as well as it shows Umrigar's ability to write detailed characters, their internal conflicts and how they fit into present day India and its past.  The novel doesn't tie things up, ending on a note of hope but with questions about the future for them all.

1 comment:

Tanya @ Mom's Small Victories said...

I absolutely loved this book and it was my first read from this author. But I have not read The Space Between us. Here's my review if you'd like to stop by...