Book Review: Small Days and Nights by Tishani Doshi|The disadvantages of being an independent woman in Modern India

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Blurb (as on Goodreads):

An Irish Times Book of the Year 2019

Escaping her failing marriage, Grace has returned to Pondicherry to cremate her mother. Once there, she finds herself heir to an inheritance she could not have expected – a property on the beaches of Madras, and a sister she never knew she had: Lucia, who was born with Downs Syndrome and has spent her life in a residential facility.

Grace sets up a new and precarious life along the coast of Madras, with Lucia, the village housekeeper Mallika, the drily witty Auntie Kavitha and an ever-multiplying litter of puppies. But Grace’s attempts to play house prove first a struggle, then a strain, as she discovers the chaos, tenderness, fury and bewilderment of life with Lucia.

Luminous, funny, surprising and heartbreaking, Small Days and Nights is the story of a woman caught in a moment of transformation, and the sacrifices we make to forge lives that have meaning.

Untitled - CopyGrace’s story isn’t extraordinary but it’s definitely thought-provoking. After a failed marriage and the death of her Mother, Grace returns to India with only one goal- to meet Lucia, her sister who was probably the most well-kept secret of her family. Lucia suffers from Down’s Syndrome, a conditions that make her dependant on others for day to day activities.

When’s Grace’s father refused to raise Lucia with the notion that they were inefficient in caring for a differently abled child, her parents decided to keep her hidden from most of the world, in an institution far away. As Grace makes up her mind for this new responsibility, she also inherits a house near the beach in Madras from her mother, which later becomes her home with Lucia.

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Grace had a normal childhood, but she always craved from things different from what she was offered. She didn’t have a lot of friends and grew up into someone detached from familial ties. She married her childhood sweetheart, but their needs in life turned out to be different.

As Grace tries to build a life in India, she is subjected to random speculations about her whereabouts and financial state and is judged repeatedly for the choices she makes. Over time, she gets close to a stray dog but that falls apart because of certain vengeful villagers. Grace constantly suffers from the feeling of being incomplete. She is looking for something, maybe closure or love or just companionship.

“Small Days and Nights’ is the story of survival, of finding one’s place and accepting one’s family that has been divided through secrets, mistrust, and misunderstandings. But more than that, it brings to us everything that’s wrong with modern India. It’s all about change- both as an Individual and as a society.

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Purchase Links:                                 |Amazon Paperback|

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*Thank you Bloomsbury India for the copy. All opinions are my own*

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