1910, India. Young and curious Alice, with her spun-gold hair, grows up in her family’s sprawling compound with parents as remote as England, the cold country she has never seen. It is Raju, son of a servant, with whom she shares her secrets. Together, their love grows like roses – but leaves deep thorns. Because when they get too close, Alice’s father drags them apart, sending Raju far away and banishing Alice to England…
1944. Intelligent and kind Janaki is raised in an orphanage in India. The nuns love to tell the story: Janaki’s arrival stopped the independence riots outside the gates, as the men on both sides gazed at the starry-eyed little girl left in a beautiful hand-knitted cardigan. Janaki longs for her real mother, the woman who was forced to abandon her, wrapped in a precious gift…
Now old enough to be a grandmother and living alone in India, Alice watches children play under the tamarind trees, haunted by the terrible mistake she made fifty years ago. It’s just an ordinary afternoon, until a young girl with familiar eyes appears with a photograph and Alice must make a choice. Will she spend the rest of her life consumed by dreams of the past, or can she admit her mistakes and choose love and light at last?
I love Renita D’Silva and her books. I think it takes a special person to come up with the kind of beautiful stories that she does. She writes with so much heart and this is evident in each of her books and characters. Renita also has the ability to put my emotions into words. You know the way you feel something that you can’t really explain? I related with one of the characters so much such that her epiphany was mine too. I finally had words to explain an experience I had a few years ago. Anyway, let me try and explain why I have once again fallen in love with Renita’s writing.
Alice and Janaki are the main characters and narrators in this story. Alice was a young, British woman living in India. She was in love with the country, language, food, people and one boy called Raju. Needless to say, Alice falling in love with the native son of her Ayah was totally unacceptable. On the other hand, Janaki’s story was one of many heartbreaks. She grew up in an orphanage and experienced one loss after the another. Just when I thought my heart had broken enough, the author threw in another heartbreak such that I started wondering whether Janaki would ever have a happy ending.
The character development is very well done. I quickly fell in love with both women. I empathized with them. I rejoiced with them but then again, we went through so much heartbreak together. I was surprised by how much I related with Alice. At first, she was just another woman in a forbidden relationship. However, I soon found myself sharing many Aha moments with her.
This story is beautiful. It covers themes of love, loss, grief, hope and relationships. Renita’s writing as always was brilliant. I have always loved how she manages to bring scenes alive. The imagery of India was splendid. Despite the charged atmosphere in the country, I wanted to go there. I wanted to see the Saris, run through the fields,eat the exotic dishes, see all the bright colors that I associate with India. This book took me to an amazing trip. Its been 3 days since reading it but the scenes still haunt me.
Please read Renita’s books. It is an injustice to deny yourself the beauty that is her writing. You can start with The Orphan’s Gift.
Beautifully -written, captivating, memorable… I lack enough words to accurately describe just how amazing this book is. Just read it.
Other titles by the author that I loved: