(photo from amazon)
I found this interesting novel in the teenager section of my local library, so I actually read the French translation and not the English version. The author, Kashmira Seth, (who emigrated from India to the US at the age of 17) writes about one year in the life of Leela.
Engaged at the age of two, married at nine, Leela is suddenly widowed at the age of 12. The weight of tradition bears down on her and she has to shave her head, give up all her jewellry and beautiful saris, to wear a plain earth-coloured one. She is not allowed to join in normal community activites and has to spend all her time at home, in bereavement, facing a future where she will never be allowed to remarry.
Set in India of the 1920s with the political backdrop of the British in India and Gandhi’s non-violent protests, I found this a great read. Kashmira Sheth is writing for teenagers but I thoroughly enjoyed her style. I have discovered since, that this is not her first novel. Her first is “Blue Jasmine” about a little girl who emigrates to the US (inspired by Kashmira’s own experience) and I think her latest one is “Boys Without Names” (about child labour in in India).