Where The River Parts by Radhika Swarup
Book Review - Blurb
But these things haven’t happened before. It’s August 1947, the night before India’s independence. It is also the night before Pakistan’s creation and the brutal Partition of the two countries. Asha, a Hindu in a newly Muslim land, must flee to safety. She carries with her a secret she has kept even from Firoze, her Muslim lover, but Firoze must remain in Pakistan, and increasing tensions between the two countries mean the couple can never reunite. Fifty years later in New York, Asha’s Indian granddaughter falls in love with a Pakistani, and Asha and Firoze, meeting again at last, are faced with one more – final – choice.
Really enjoyed this heart-warming drama following two families, one Muslim and one Hindu, as they live through Partition in 1947 India and how it impacted the future generations of their respective families. I gave this book four out of five as there were a few niggles I had with the writing, which I’ll cover first.
At times the dialogue is slow to the point of stagnant; luckily there were not too many pages of dialogue. I wish the editor had cut out the repeated phrases that didn’t move the story along or help us understand our characters any better. On the subject of dialogue I thought the use of foreign words was too much. I’m sure the writer thought it added authenticity but when the words were not always explained, and we could only guess at their meaning, it became too much like hard work and a bit annoying.
One other gripe I had was with pace. Sometimes, especially at the beginning, it was too slow for me. I also thought the last few pages were rushed, especially as the writer had built up tension towards the end with family conflict going on for the last 25 per cent of the book and then resolving that tension in one paragraph.
Now to the things I loved. A great premise for a story. Recent history always intrigues me, especially when we are still so close to it. This was a book about emotions and strength of will and I was with the characters every step of the way. I loved the sense of helplessness and vulnerability some of them had as they were not able to avoid the inevitable consequences of their lives.
I enjoyed the atmospheres created by Swarup which appealed to all the senses and were never overdone.
Asha is the main character and I found her a genuine, well crafted character who was easy to believe and relate to. There was nothing forced, fake or contrived about her.
Sometimes the language was quite poetic and I liked those touches throughout the book. The last few lines were particularly well crafted in my opinion.
I enjoyed that this story was told chronologically from beginning to end and didn’t jump around in time as I don’t think that would have added anything to the telling and I was totally satisfied by the outcome.
I hate to give spoilers in a review so I’ll leave it there and just say that I would recommend you read this book and I will certainly like to read more from the writer in the future.