I have had the fortune of interacting with Renita D’Silva, author of this book, ever since I met her on Twitter while reading her book, The Forgotten Daughter. And with time, by the grace of God, we have developed a wonderful camaraderie. She sent me a paperback copy of A Daughter’s Courage all the way from the UK, and I was deeply moved by her gesture. I am honored and privileged to be one of the few fortunate ones to receive such a special signed copy. And of course, Renita is one of the kindest and sweetest people I’ve ever met in my life. However, let me be clear that our friendship doesn’t in any way affect this honest review of this book.
When I read her second book, The Forgotten Daughter, I thought it was a near flawless book with exceptional language and a moving story, but this being her sixth book, time has matured her writing skills even more, and now, it has achieved perfection. From the very first page, the writing gripped me, and the brilliant, delectable prose ushered me along a journey brimming with intrigue.
I have never encountered a book where the characters are developed with such care and intricacy. Brilliant would be a sheer understatement. Bolstered by excellent, moving back stories, the characters are weaved with complex threads of emotions and laced with unique, adorable traits. Kavya, the feisty, young wannabe actress, Sue, the sad pregnant widow, Lucy, the immature, adventurous woman, and Gowri, the brave, unfortunate Devadasi. However, it is not just about the women. Even the men play an important part in this memorable epic. Renita has the knack of producing exceptional male characters, who are so lovable, despite having flaws. I will never forget Mr. Bell and the Market Boy. Even the smaller characters, especially Vandana Ma’am, are drawn beautifully and given their due importance. The complex bonds among family members are also portrayed with exceptional skill.
The story is structured with such careful intricacy that you always wonder what will happen next, thus preventing you from keeping the book down despite its longer length. Although the narrative alternates between present and the past, you never feel overwhelmed as it is so easy to connect with the characters. And as always in Renita’s case, the descriptions are so vivid and enticing that you feel as if you are right there in the scene along with the characters. The reason for it is that Renita not only shows you what is happening (sense of sight), she also activates your other senses: touch (e.g. the caress of the breeze), smell (e.g. the air filled with aroma or stench or a mixture of them), and hearing (all the sounds and noises that the characters experience), thus immersing you totally in the scene. Whether it is describing the clean, green meadows of England or the crowded, noisy streets of India, Renita does a stellar job. One more subtle thing I noticed was that depending upon the characters, Renita even adjusts her language and the dialogues. During Lucy’s scenes, the language takes a distinct English tone with a few typical idiosyncrasies followed by the British, and while dealing with Indian characters, Indian English takes over seamlessly.
The editing is flawless, and the language is luscious. Line after line, page after page, the prose strikes you with punches of beauty. Despite dedicating a full two weeks for this book, when I didn’t do anything else, the tasty sentences forced me to go back and re-read them until my thirst was fulfilled, thus lengthening my read. Renita, a best-selling author of six books now, is at the height of her powers in this book, wielding weapons of unique metaphors, wonderful similes, a perfectly-fitting vocabulary, and a variety of non-cliched idioms. Trust me, try this book out and you will understand the power of grand, masterful prose. This is literary fiction at its VERY BEST.
Not only is the story and language remarkable, it also lends you spurts of motivation, not by preaching about it as some immature authors do, but by showing the determination and the fighting spirit of the characters. I finished the book yesterday, and for a few hours, I couldn’t sleep. The characters appeared before my eyes, haunting me. They have etched themselves in my mind, and I’m sure they will stay with me for a long, long time.
The emotional quotient of the book is again remarkable. You feel for all the characters, despite their flaws and mistakes. I cried several times in the book, especially towards the climax. The dialogues are placed expertly in perfect places, wrenching your heart and pushing you down the lake of tears. The only two well-written books which I can call truly emotional are The Kite Runner and The Forgotten Daughter (the first book of Renita’s that I read), and although The Kite Runner was a devastating read, I can’t say that this book moved me any less. In particular, I think the depth of the characters in this epic, sprawling, unforgettable novel edges it slightly ahead to take the top spot. So, let me reiterate.
THIS IS, WITHOUT A DOUBT, THE BEST BOOK I HAVE EVER READ — A MUST READ FOR ALL FANS OF FICTION. I COULD GO ON AND ON, BUT IT STILL WOULDN’T DO JUSTICE TO THE QUALITY OF THIS GEM OF A BOOK. READ IT NOW, OR YOU WILL BE MISSING OUT ON SOMETHING REALLY OUT OF THIS WORLD. 100 STARS FROM MY SIDE.