When Caroline meets Kamal the attraction is instant. He’s enchanting, charismatic and she can’t wait to set up a new life with him in India. Both their families are against the union but Caroline is convinced they’ll come round, especially when she gives birth to a beautiful daughter, Asha.
Asha is an adorable child but Caroline, homesick and beginning to hate the remote Indian village they live in, struggles with motherhood. Kamal is hardly ever there and she feels more and more isolated. In the grips of severe depression Caroline flees back to America, leaving Asha behind.
Ten years later…
Caroline recovered from her illness, is consumed by thoughts of the daughter she abandoned. Desperate to find Asha, she reunites with Kamal, intent on tracking her down. Will they ever be able to find their lost daughter? If they have a chance, they must confront the painful truths of the past and a terrible secret that has been kept for many years until now.
A heart-breaking and beautifully written story of loss, secrets and the strength of a mother’s love against all odds. If you enjoyed Diane Chamberlain and Lucinda Riley then this book will find its way into your heart and stay there.
‘Bombay, or Mumbai, as it is now to be called, was the enemy. She arrived prepared to do battle, prepared to wrest from its bowels that precious jewel, her Asha.’
Sharon Maas has done it again with The Lost Daughter Of India, having created a heart-felt, intensely moving, beautifully written novel.
When American Caroline meets Indian Kamal, she believes her childhood dreams of India have come true. After marrying, giving birth to their daughter Asha and settling in a small village in India, she realises that this is not the life she wanted, compounded by her struggle to adjust to motherhood. Returning to America, leaving her daughter behind with the family they have resided with, things later go awry when Asha goes missing in India and Caroline, Kamal and Asha’s foster-sister Janiki try desperately to find her. What follows is a gripping story of secrets, regret and desperation in a country of contrasts.
The Lost Daughter Of India is not always a comfortable book to read as it addresses some of the horrifying aspects of India and the way it treats some of its women and children. It touches on topics that are not easy to come to terms with and that are, sadly, a reality for many Indian children, however it is done with sensitivity and understanding.
Told from the perspectives of Asha, Caroline, Kamal and Janiki, Asha’s foster-sister, with Asha’s parts told in first person narrative, Sharon has created well-rounded characters. The impact their different cultures have had on each of them come across perfectly. Asha’s parts really struck me as you feel as though you are actually sat with Asha as she tells her story. She becomes more than a character in a book due to Sharon’s way of having Asha address the reader directly. I really liked this as it ensured that I was fully invested emotionally in Asha’s story and plight. Caroline is at times unrealistic and I didn’t agree with some of her decisions, however I found myself questioning my own views and wondering if I was coming from a very western point of view as a result.
The Lost Daughter of India would make a great book for a reading group as it touches on various themes—attachment difficulties between mother and child, child trafficking, the impact of culture on behaviour and views—that are thought-provoking and ripe for discussion. The downside to reading advance copies of books is being unable to talk about it with someone else who has read it. This is one of those books you really want to get into a conversation about.
And then there is the writing. You are immediately drawn into the book from the prologue. Sharon’s enchanting and rich descriptions evoke all of the sights, sounds, colours and smells of India. As Caroline’s nanny reads to her and Caroline talks about how the book makes her feel, she could be describing how her own books make me feel. Sharon writes about India wonderfully, getting across the dual nature of this country of contrasts perfectly and it made me feel really emotional!
‘Two-faced India, gentle and brutal, gloriously beautiful, hideously ugly. The India that kissed you on one cheek and slapped you on the other. The India that soothed your soul one day and ripped it to shreds the next. The India that nourished your senses and starved your ego, kicking it into the ground.’
The difficulty of finding Asha is portrayed beautifully through the prose, with Sharon illustrating the importance of the setting in such a way that India takes on a life of its own and becomes omnipresent.
I loved The Lost Daughter Of India. It is poignant, evocative, beautiful yet shocking and intelligently and sensitively written. It is all-absorbing, gripping and emotionally charged – an absolute must read and I just hope I have done it justice in this review.
Thank you to Sharon Maas, Bookouture and Netgalley for the advance copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.
Published on 20 January 2017 by Bookouture.
You can purchase a copy HERE.