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When The Lotus Blooms: Book Review

'When The Lotus Blooms' stared at me from the bookshelf of a reputed book store with a yearning look. My first instinct was to ignore it. Although I spent 350 bucks for the novel, I feel it is worth for the debut author.

A period drama set in the early 20th century, India is not an unexplored area for fiction. But debutante author Kanchana Krishnan Ayyar manages to give us a fresh view of this era with her tight storytelling. The story of When The Lotus Blooms is weaved around two Tamil Brahmin families who bring in two child brides; Rajam and Dharmu. These two young girls are the protagonists of the novel and their journey to womanhood is the plot of the story.

Although When The Lotus Blooms has only two main characters, the story has several narrators including the husbands of Rajam and Dharmu, their respective family members and also stray characters like the 'untouchable' cleaner in Rajam's village. So, we know what each character is thinking and that justifies their actions. This narrative method is too conclusive as it takes the mystery away but, it also gives the story diversity of perspectives.

In the world of When The Lotus Blooms, each character is struggling with their own problems; Rajam with an oppressive mother in law who taunts her about her barrenness, and Dharmu with an ultra modern meat eating husband who dominates her. The story is crafted in such a way that one woman's curse becomes another woman's boon.When teh lotus finally blooms, it will obliterate their problems binding the two women in an unnatural bond.

The new Indian author Ms Ayyar too has the curse of all women writers, a feminine perspective to the world around her. But it brings a refreshing touch to this story because the British Raj has rarely been described from such a sensitive feminine angle. We as a nation were slave to a foreign government. But what was it like for the women, especially young women, in those days to be 'slave' to the 'slaves', i.e. their men.

To conclude the book review I would say that it is a must read! If you are a busy working woman struggling with your so called 'modern' problems of managing a career and family, read When The Lotus Blooms. You will be humbled.

Story first published: Friday, May 4, 2012, 14:45 [IST]
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