Review Blog

Mar 27 2009

Indian Summer by Patrima Mitchell

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Walker Books, 2009 ISBN 9781406308174
(Ages 13+) Sarla's mother is about to head off on an assignment where she cannot take her daughter, so Sarla decides she will spend the school holiday with her grandparents in India. Here she meets a totally different world, one she is related to but has not lived. It is an eye opening experience.
In her grandparents' house lives Bina, a mysterious young woman, bent on becoming a doctor, spending all her waking hours studying for exams. Sarla is derisive of this young woman, judging her by the mores of her school friends in London, but as she gets to know the girl, it becomes apparent that there is a secret. Not only does the girl hold secrets close to her chest, there is an air of secrecy in the house and the driver too appears not to be what he makes out.
A fascinating inside look at the various cultures and social levels which make up India, Indian Summer is a page turner, although the story takes a while to start. The need to know Bina's background, the relationship between Bina and Sarla, and the enigmatic Sidhartha, all beckon the reader on. But it takes some fortitude to get to that point. The first half of the book is slow; the author making sure the reader has a good understanding of the background of the novel and the main characters, which may deter some readers. During the course of the novel, however, Mitchell reveals information about the caste system, the British Raj as well as the fight for independence. All most illuminating wrapped up in an interesting story set in an exotic location. Fran Knight

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