Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Review - Freedom of the Monsoon by Malika Gandhi

Last Tuesday we heard from Malika about why she rewrote Freedom of the Monsoon, and today it gives me great pleasure to review the new edition.

As a child, I was taught in primary school about how wonderful the great Mahatma Gandhi was, gaining his people's freedom by peaceful means (although my racist, imperialist teacher couldn't resist a few overtones about how unreasonable it was for the Indian people to resent being invaded and want their country back). But nothing prepared me for the realisation of just how badly the English behaved during their occupation of India.

Freedom of the Monsoon doesn't really focus on the abuse committed by the invaders, but as the spotlight moves about, following the story's main characters, aspects of it are thrown into relief by the edges, as it were, of the light, giving depth and texture to the main story, which relates the lives of two young people living through the period of the Quit India movement.

It's a gentle and moving story about some really nice people, although I did find the abusive husband suddenly experiencing a complete change of heart and never behaving badly again a little unrealistic.

One feature of Gandhi's writing that I really like is the way that she deals with Indian words: by giving the explanation of the term immediately afterwards, in parentheses, rather than using the more traditional footnote. This is a far more reader-friendly technique, and gives the book a friendly, chatty feeling that I enjoyed.

I did think that, as English is not the writer's first language, the book could have benefitted from a more rigorous edit, just to tidy up the inevitable stumbles in language that any non-English speaker is liable to make.

All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Freedom of the Monsoon is available at AMAZON and SMASHWORDS

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