Somehow, this book magically contains all of my favorite genres, Indian and Southern gothic, and gets if RIGHT! Fascinating novel about an American woman who retreated to India following a tragedy to run a guest house on the bank of the Ganges. We learn about the lives of this woman and her guests during an imposed curfew following an episode of political turmoil and violence. Loved it!!
This is a very interesting and well written book. Written vividly.
Dreamy, hypnotic, magical, the story flowed so easily that I had a hard time putting it down. There is the main character's 1st-person narrative of what she sees, hears, thinks, feels and remembers set against the troubles of several guests in her boarding house (their parts are in your typical 3rd-person omniscient narrative). While I almost always dislike 1st-person narrative, I was captivated by this one right from the start. You are gradually exposed to the "mystery" behind the main character and at times what is past and what is present wavers back and forth in her mind with no clear-cut distinction between them. This is where the dreamy-hypnotic feeling really shines. It feels natural, like a stream of consciousness, just how my mind works. The descriptions of daily life along the shore of the Ganges River in the holy city of Benares are incredibly rich but none are extraneous. There are no lengthy descriptions of clouds, mountains, clothing, etc. that are unnecessary, such as bog down so many other novels (IMO). The images conjured up will stay with me a long time. The conclusion to the story is fitting given the style of writing, the topics presented, and the mystery behind the main character. It doesn't conclude like your average formulaic story does, but rather it simply flows on past you, the reader, as if you are standing on the shore of the river, watching the boats go by. I found myself getting teary-eyed by the beauty and promise of that. If you've liked Jhumpa Lahiri's "Interpreter of Maladies" or enjoyed the hypnotic flashback style of the cinematic version of "The English Patient," I think you'll like this one too.