Monday, February 28, 2011

book review: Someone Else's Garden by Dipika Rai

Someone Else's Garden. by Dipika RaiThe 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!

6 comments:

  1. I've seen this one popping up here and there. Sorry to see that the writing didn't quite pan out.

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  2. I tend to devour Indian literature, and would probably really like this one, but like you, I would probably feel the lack of punch in the writing and it might bother me. The story sounds interesting enough in itself, but your reflection that there was a spark missing makes me wonder if I should count this one out.

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  3. Knowing that the author's writing is truly beautiful makes me very excited to see what she comes out with next. Thanks for being on the tour!

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  4. Such a beautiful cover and storyline! Too bad its a bit of a let down.

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  5. It's always nice to hear about an author's debut novel. Although you only gave it a 3 it is probably worth reading and also looking to see how the author will develop over time.

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  6. Thanks for the honest review - I have heard similar things about this book from other reviewers. I'll still be reading it, but it's good to know that it's depressing.

    I hope it's okay if I link to your review from the South Asian Review Database

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. Happy reading!