Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Forgotten Daughter by Renita D'Silva

The Forgotten Daughter.  Renita D’Silva. Bookoutre. February 2014. 402 pp. ISBN#: 9781909490277.

Nisha’s parents are scientists who have never shown much love to their daughter but instead taught her to find solace in numbers.  She is a successful statistician in a Canadian university, but her world is about to fall apart.  After her parents’ death in a tragic car accident, Nisha receives a letter from them that was left with the family lawyer.  “You are adopted!”  Words that are like a tsunami breaking down her secure world and awakening her emotional side that she never knew existed, since that part of her being was repressed for years.  Now, the pivotal question in her life is “Why?”  She’s even reticent about her lover, Matt, who could not be more perfect if he tried.  Yes, she’s in love with him but can’t get the words, “I love you” out without feeling like she is choking.  So she says nothing and instead enters this new world of turmoil and gnawing ache as she wonders if she’s ever been loved!

Shilpa and Devi are in another part of the world, India, where they are preparing for Shilpa’s death.  Devi finds her mother’s journal full of delicious recipes and the diary-style journal of her mother, Shilpa.  Devi reads to her mother as she is lying in a hospital bed, slipping in and out of consciousness, the chances of her slipping into a coma and dying very, very real!  No more spoilers – suffice to say this is a story that is both tough as nails and soft as feather down.  The essence of it is yearning to be a woman, a wife, a mother, a connector of generations, with all the mental, physical and spiritual anguish that entails, especially as mother and daughter age and experience transitions in their relationship.  They understand each other so well and yet in many ways don’t have a clue about each other’s hopes and dreams, their respect for the aspects of Indian culture that is shared in this journal in the form of luscious recipes the reader will want to try for sure.

Nisha decides to travel to India to find her “roots” and hope it will give her some grounding to fill her life that feels so barren and empty, that yearns for love that only real family can provide.  Readers will not be disappointed at all and will be shell-shocked with surprise as the story progresses to a gracious, beautiful end!

The Forgotten Daughter is SUPERB contemporary fiction.  The descriptions of the food, drink, and fruit are presented with the art of one who truly loves food and knows how to sensually present it it to enliven the guest’s hunger, thirst, and more.  Adopted children often feel abandoned and forgotten by their real parents, but what a very different discovery lies ahead for each of these fascinating characters. 
This reviewer absolutely loved this gorgeous, well-crafted novel which is worthy of best seller status and all the awards one can give for finely written, literate fiction!!!! An absolute delight, a MUST read!!!!

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