“A playful yet profound novel [that] moves easily from heartfelt to humorous…what may seem to be a singular story about first-generation London-bred Punjabi women evolves into a story universal to us all.”
NO MAJOR SPOILERS
Sita Shergill’s terminal cancer diagnosis has kept her from returning to India and visit the place where she grew up in, Punjab. Her three daughters are estranged from each other and things have never been the same since their father’s death. She decides to write a letter to them, in an effort to restore broken relationships. Her last wishes instruct her daughters to undertake a pilgrimage journey to India, after her death to spread her ashes. Rajni, the eldest of the three, organizes the trip.
From the moment the narrative begins, we are drawn into the lives of the protagonists.
Responsible Rajni, the eldest sister, by more than a decade, has a 18-year old son. Though she is authoritative, she has self-doubts. She discovers, just before she departs for Delhi, that her son is in love with a woman twice his age and she’s soon to be a grandmother.
Jezmeen, the middle sister, is a reality-disaster-TV-show host. She is an unsuccessful actress and her career is hit rock-bottom as she is caught on camera in an incredible disaster, which subjects her to social media attacks. She is raunchy, lively, stubborn, single and the most dynamic character of the three sisters.
The youngest sibling is Shirina, who is sensitive and polite. She herself organised her own arranged internet marriage, trying to find some semblance of a family, which was lacking in her growing up days. However, she is stifled with a dominating mother-in law and her hostile attitude.
They meet in Delhi to start their journey, and from then on starts a crazy rollercoaster ride.
The three women traverse from one city and one adventure to another, each ending with a hint about the complex backstory of one of the sisters.
Each sister has a secret that she cannot share with the others, trying to maintain a façade that she believes is important for the family dynamics.
Will the journey help resolve differences between the three? Will it bring them closer? Will they be able to forgive and care for each other again?
This women-driven road-trip story is suspenseful, fast-paced, engaging, at times comical, yet addresses dark issues. It explores family relationships and patriarchal system of families in India, beautifully. I enjoyed their journey, and the way they re-discovered each other without judgements.
A beautifully written family saga about sisterhood, acceptance and forgiveness. The underlying message is also about making peace with your past, healing deep-rooted wounds and finally accepting yourself.
Added 7th January 2021