The basics: "The eldest of seven children, born low-caste and female in rural India, Mamta is abused and rejected by a father who can see no reason to 'water someone else's garden' until a husband can be found for her. Seeking escape in matrimony, Mamta begins her wedded life with hope--but is soon forced to flee her village and the horrors of her arranged marriage to the bustle of a small city." -- from the back of the book
My thoughts: Someone Else's Garden, Dipikia Rai's debut novel, is quite beautifully written. As I read the book's first sentences, I knew I had to pay attention. The reader jumps right into the story and several character names. Soon, however, the novel began to drag before me. I still enjoyed Rai's writing and gift for description, but it wasn't enough to keep the magic alive. I never found myself scrambling to write down certain passages, but I did find myself re-reading passages to myself.
The book was a lovely insight into Indian culture, but its honest approach was necessarily depressing at times. It's not without hope, however. I found much of it to be slow, but there were parts I thoroughly enjoyed. It has many strengths, including a powerful last line that will stay with me for some time, but I wish the narrative would have been tighter.
The verdict: The strong writing, vividly realized setting and intriguing characters didn't keep this novel from a slow read. Dipika Rai is a talented writer, and both the premise and ending are strong. I hope her next book packs more literary and plot punches from beginning to end.
Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)
Length: 374 pages
Publication date: February 1, 2011 (paperback original release)
Source: publisher via TLC Book Tours; the full tour schedule is here (and many enjoyed this novel more than I did)
Learn more about Dipika Rai on her website or on Facebook. Order Someone Else's Garden from Amazon, the Book Depository, or an independent bookstore.
As an Amazon affiliate, I receive a small commission when you make a purchase through any of the above links. Thank you!