Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Review: An Atlas of Impossible Longing by Anuradha Roy
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada
Released: 2011 (paperback)
An Atlas of Impossible Longing opens in 1907 when Amulyan moves his wife, two sons and daughter –in-law to Songarh from Calcutta. Amulya is proud of the large, beautiful home he has built for his family. Amulyan’s wife, Kananbala is furious that he has taken them away from their family. Their new home is large, and empty. The only home in the vicinity belongs to an English couple across the street. Kananbala becomes very homesick and lonely; gradually she begins to lose her sanity and becomes unpredictable. Kananbala begins to blurts out every negative thing that crosses her mind, Amulyan doesn’t know what to do with her, and he eventually resorts to having her locked in their bedroom to avoid embarrassment.
An Atlas of Impossible longing is difficult to give a synopsis since it spans three generations. The above synopsis leads up to the family’s downward spiral, and I believe the most pivotal part of the story. I’m drawn to books set in India, and this one lived up to my expectations. Readers will eagerly enjoy each and every character’s journey. Roy has an amazing ability to transport her readers to India, her descriptive language is vivid and comes alive. This is a novel about love and loss and what it takes to make a house a home.
The novel is divided into three sections; the first begins with Kananbala’s loneness and eventual imprisonment in her bedroom. Their oldest son is married, and youngest son soon marries. The second section begins with life after Amulyan’s death and the family struggle to remain together. The third section covers Bakul, the only grandchild and an orphan boy, Makunda that has been taken into the home. Their friendship is challenged once they grow older and their actions are questioned. Makunda eventually leaves the home and sets out to make a life for himself. Each section is intriguing, and emotionally engaging.
If you’re interested in India, and Indian culture this is a great read. The family dynamic is challenging and this family will pull at your heart strings. They don’t always make the best decisions, but they try to do what they think is best. Their struggles feel real and honest. I can’t wait to read her newest novel The Folded Earth.