Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Book Review - The Tree Bride

Back in December, I picked up this book only because I needed one more book to get in on a 4 for $20 deal. I tucked it away in the basement and forgot all about it. Some weeks ago, a coworker who is also an avid reader – and is very interested in Indian novels and literature – happened to mention this book, and I remembered that I actually owned it. Went looking for it in the basement and spied it jammed between an Enid Blyton mystery and Jim Herriot’s Tales of a Country Vet.

Reading the book’s jacket synopsis, might lead you to believe that The Tree Bride is just another book about a person of Indian origin, now living somewhere in the US trying to figure out that fine balance between being true to where they come from and merging with where they now belong. To my surprise, it was more.

Not unlike many other Indians living abroad, Mukherjee’s protagonist Tara is searching for her roots. Her search is focused on a very interesting ancestor and her namesake; a woman who, as a young girl was married to a tree. What is unlike other such stories is that this book is not just about Tara and her quest, but also a look into one of the most interesting times in Indian history – the last days of the Raj. As the story swings between modern day San Francisco, Calcutta of the late 1800s and North Britain in the early/mid 1950s Mukherjee’s novel draws the reader into Tara’s journey of self discovery into her past and the amazing coincidence of connections that form her present life.
When researching the author, I found out that The Tree Bride is actually book two of a trilogy and having read this one I am quite eager to read more of Mukherjee's work. Most interesting would be the book that she co authored with her husband Clarke Blaise on the terrorist bombing of Air India flight 182 - The Sorrow and the Terror: The Haunting Legacy of the Air India Tragedy. Known as Canada's largest mass murder and the worst flight disaster until the September 11 attacks, the bombing of flight 182 killed all 329 passengers on board. 20 years later, families of the victims are still waiting to see justice.

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