Wednesday 25 January 2012

Tell It to the Trees

Finished January 20
Tell It to the Trees by Anita Rau Badami
Set in the outskirts of a small mountain town in British Columbia, this novel follows an Indo-Canadian family of a father Vikram, his second wife Suman, his teen daughter Varsha, his small son Hemant, and his aging mother Akka.Vikram is an authoritarian figure, demanding a level of control of his family beyond normal. Suman has come to Canada as part of an arranged marriage and is both eager to please and isolated. Varsha feels abandoned by her mother, who died in an accident. Akka is a woman who recognizes the issues in the family, but has limited power to influence them. When a single woman, Anu, rents out the small cottage on the property, she offers Suman a friendship, but others in the family feel threatened by her modern and independent attitude.
This is a story of the desire for love executed in a dysfunctional manner.
The story is relevant and has some parallels to the current story of the Shafia family. I felt both anger and pity for the characters here, caught in what seems to be a story in which no one ends up with happiness. The best intentions here don't lead to the best outcome.
This would be a great book for book clubs, offering many avenues of discussion.

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