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!


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

  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.

  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!

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

  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.

  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


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