Monday, 5 August 2013

Monsoon Memories by Renita D'Silva

Title : Monsoon Memories
Author : Renita D’Silva
Genre : Fiction
Publisher : Bookouture
Pages : 410
My Rating : 9/10
Reviewed For : Publisher / First Reads Challenge 2013 /
South Asian Challenge 2013 / IQRC 2013



“English rain smelt and tasted of nothing at all. It had none of the fury, the passion of the monsoons. Instead, it was weak; half-hearted.”

Exiled from her family in India for more than a decade, Shirin and her husband lead a comfortable but empty life in London.
Memories of her childhood – exotic fragrances, colours, stifling heat and tropical storms – fill Shirin with a familiar and growing ache for the land and the people that she loves.
With the recollections though, come dark clouds of scandal and secrets. Secrets that forced her to flee her old life and keep her from ever returning.
Thousands of miles away, in Bangalore, the daughter of Shirin’s brother discovers a lost, forgotten photograph. One that has escaped the flames.
Determined to solve the mystery of an aunt she never knew, Reena’s efforts will set in place a chain of events that expose the painful trauma of the past and irrevocably change the path of the future.

An unforgettable journey through a mesmerizing, passionate land of contrasts – and a family whose story will touch your heart.

My Review:

Every once in a while, comes along a newbie author who takes you by absolute surprise and transports you to a place where you stop thinking that you are reading a debut work. Monsoon Memories by Renita D’Silva was one such read for me - it mesmerised me with its poignant narration and heart-warming story and kept me hooked to the book till the last page. The story keeps oscillating between the frosty winters of London and tropical monsoons of India, between the past and the present and is yet seamlessly interwoven by the author.

The plot revolves around Shirin & Reena – Shirin, who is living a life that has crumpled and fallen apart in pieces by demons of her past and Reena, a 11-year old girl, an aspiring detective who idolises Nancy Drew. As the plot moves on we come to know that Shirin has been exiled from her family in India, literally cut out like a vestigial organ forcing her to shift to London with her husband. However, the ghosts of her past follow her around everywhere like a nightmare and her life becomes a mere shadow of her dark past. Meanwhile in Mangalore, Reena who is Shirin’s niece, discovers an old, ancient even, hidden family photo at her grandmother’s house, with a mystery girl whom Reena has never seen before. Inspired by Nancy Drew, Reena embarks on a detective hunt to find out who this woman is but instead unknowingly ends up opening Pandora’s Box.

This read, from the outset, plunges into Shirin’s life which has gone through an upheaval and has left her bereft of the place and people whom she loves the most. The plot progresses through two parallel narratives – one from Shirin’s view point while the other from her 11-year old niece Reena. As a result of this, we get a glimpse of how each & every incident is perceived by both the protagonists without the plot getting repetitive & blasé. As the plot unfolds, the author uncovers each hidden secret, each small fact – layer by layer and the readers get an insight into the Shirin’s painful & troubled past. Another highlight of this read is the way the author has portrayed the secondary characters. Each and every character is given a distinct voice and attribute. The author has done an amazing work at drawing out each of their emotions, their actions as well as inactions, their regrets, vulnerability – each of which has a reason associated to it.

Even though this read followed both Shirin & Reena’s journey to self-discovery, Shirin stood out to me through and through like a star. Although her life lies in broken pieces, she tries to pick up each & every piece and tries to live with them every day. Needless to say, she is easy to sympathize with, the reader’s will feel her pain, her guilt, her sacrifice, her yearning & the self-imposed exile that she throws herself into. Coming to Reena, though she is 11-year old inching towards her teens, she is way more matured & wise for her age. A rebel from the outset, her wit, humour and investigative antics make sure that the readers have a soft spot for her.

The author has based this read around many thought-provoking themes – the changing dynamics in family & relationships, the social demands and obligations, the details surrounding arranged marriages in India and the burden of holding the family name & its esteem. Renita has intricately captured all these issues into the storyline. Another aspect of the narrative was the author’s style of writing. Renita has a way with describing each and every detail and incorporating it into the storyline that the reader is literally transported to the world described in this read. The sensorial details are beautifully written and paint a vivid & exotic impression on the reader.

All in all, this is a captivating read of a journey towards home & self-discovery. An impressive and engrossing work from a debut author. Will definitely recommend this one and also look out for other books from Renita.


  1. A very intriguing book and an equally interesting review. Thank you for pointing me to this book. Will read soon. :-)

  2. Do read it...and thanks dear!! :-)