The Storyteller’s Secret: A Novel. Sedal Badani. Amazon Publishing. September 2018. 411 pp. ISBN#: 9781503949089.
Jaya loses her marriage after suffering three miscarriages. The latter sorrows weren’t what destroyed her bond with Patrick; instead their lack of communication increased over time until there was nothing left to say. Jaya also has the same chasm separating her and her mother Lena. Suddenly, Java decides to travel to India after her mother receives a note that her father is dying. Lena refuses to go, saying she was told to leave India and never return. But the story behind that directive remains unknown, trapped in Lena’s sorrowful stubbornness to tell the story behind that exile.
Indeed, Jaya will discover the parts of herself that she has refused to own by discovering her grandmother and grandfather’s story, through the benign goodness of Ravi, an “untouchable” who for years served as Jaya’s grandmother’s servant. A strict tradition mandates every contact and rule in the small-town Jaya visits. Ravi agrees to tell the story Jaya so longs to hear. Over time, Jaya learns of what it means when an Indian woman, Amisha, dares to dream of learning to read and write, to tell stories. Her passion about it and the bond she forms with Stephen, a British soldier and the man in charge of the local small school for Indian girls. Their passion becomes one after a beautifully depicted series of events and conversations. The end of their bond is heart-wrenching but true to reality.
Amisha is indeed like the Indian goddess she so admires, Durga, “…the universal source of all power, energy and creativity,” a link of strength demonstrating the similarities of Amisha and her granddaughter, Jaya. Jaya must tell stories and does so with great skill. Amish did the same, and the exercises she gave her students are simple but profound catalysts for eliciting “real” and “powerful” stories. One example of her teaching is stunningly painful but true to reality.
The Storyteller’s Secret… is a grand work of historical fiction that one will always remember! Highly recommended reading crafted by a skilled, gifted author!!!