Thursday, September 30, 2010

Revelry Review: The Weight of Heaven

South Asian Author Challenge: Book 4/5

When I first read the synopsis of The Weight of Heaven by Thrity Umrigar, I have to admit I wasn't all that excited. I had heard she writes beautiful fiction about Indians and Indian culture, but a book about two Americans who go to live in India? I was skeptical at best.

Turns out Umrigar can do it all. The story opens after Frank amd Ellie's young son has passed away. Their fragile state and complex emotions have been slowly eating away at their marriage. Then Frank accepts a job offer to go run an American company in rural India and they both see this as a chance to start over. While Ellie falls in love with the country and the locals, Frank's job continues to provide obstacles and frustration as the workers complain about low wages and the townspeople become enraged that the company is taking their trees for its own profit. Frank spends his free time with the son of their housekeepers, Ramesh, who fills the hole that the loss of their son left. However, it isn't long before Ramesh's own parents are unhappy that Frank and Ellie are treating him like their own child.

The plot has several twists and turns (with a final sucker punch of an ending). The reader is led into a world that is driven by misunderstandings, both cultural and personal. Overall, this is a beautiful novel with complex and dynamic characters who will linger in your mind long after you've read the last page. I can't wait to get my hands on Umrigar's other works.

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