When Caroline meets Kamal the attraction is instant. He’s enchanting, charismatic and she can’t wait to set up a new life with him in India. Both their families are against the union but Caroline is convinced they’ll come round, especially when she gives birth to a beautiful daughter, Asha. Asha is an adorable child but Caroline, homesick and beginning to hate the remote Indian village they live in, struggles with motherhood. Kamal is hardly ever there and she feels more and more isolated. In the grips of severe depression Caroline flees back to America, leaving Asha behind. Ten years later … Caroline recovered from her illness, is consumed by thoughts of the daughter she abandoned. Desperate to find Asha, she reunites with Kamal, intent on tracking her down. Will they ever be able to find their lost daughter? If they have any chance, they must confront the painful truths of the past and a terrible secret that has been kept for many years, until now.
I remember wanting to read this book after reading Diana’s review. The cover didn’t do anything for me but I liked what she said about the story and I decided to read it. However, when it was finally time, I didn’t really remember what it was about and I mistakenly thought this would be similar to Dinah Jefferies’ Before The Rains. But I was so wrong!
So first things first, this is not a historical novel. Yes, part of it is set in the XXth century, but it doesn’t really focus on that. And it’s not a romance novel, either, although it does feature a love story. I’d say this is a contemporary novel that deals with heavy themes and is definitely not an easy read at all. Human trafficking, child prostitution, poverty, abuse… Not exactly what I was expecting.
But that was a great thing, as I absolutely loved this book. I liked that it wasn’t what I thought it would be, that the cover didn’t really do it justice, that it told an important story. I knew it from the very first chapters, as I was already engaged. I think you need to know that you will find it hard to understand Caroline and Kamal’s actions. I know I did. I mean, how could they give up their daughter just like that? Why didn’t they return more often? But once I got past that, I was completely on board with the story.
Perhaps, my favorite aspect of The Lost Daughter of India was the multiple perspectives. I know some of you don’t really enjoy them anymore, but this time I thought they gave the book more depth. Asha’s (the main protagonist) story was told from a first person perspective and you could actually believe you were reading a young girl’s thoughts. And then we had Kamal and Janiki’s tale, as well as my favorite, Caroline’s. Caroline wasn’t the best character (Janiki was!) but she was the most complex and interesting to read about in my opinion. I adored how the author described her initial dreams about India and the consequent disillusion. I deeply enjoyed reading about her relationship with Kamal and their determination to find Asha.
One thing that I found curious about The Lost Daughter of India was that the second part read like a real mystery/thriller novel. Okay, so I would never say this is a thriller, but it was full of suspense, as the characters got together and worked like proper detectives to try to find Asha’s whereabouts.
The weakest part for me, and probably the only thing I didn’t like about this book was the ending, mainly because I thought it was all too convenient. There were no loose ends at all, which felt kind of unrealistic. And no, I’m not really convinced about a certain relationship… please tell me I’m not the only one. Anyway, this is a great book and so different from what you could expect at first.