Monday, May 20, 2013

Review: What the Body Remembers

What the Body Remembers, Shauna Singh Baldwin
Rating: 3.0/.50

Here's a good example of how the TTC process can take a perfectly rational brain and turn it to mush. I read the part in the book's description about one of the main characters taking on a second wife because his first was unable to have children and thought, "hey, that sounds like something I can relate to! It would be right up my alley." Needless to say, that was a stupid idea. A really, really stupid idea.

It started off well; I really liked the first chapter. The writing was nice, almost poetic, and it drew me in. It was told from Satya's perspective, the first wife, and begins just as the second wife joins the family. I felt for her and wanted to know more. Unfortunately, the next chunk of the book switched perspectives (to that of the second wife) and went back in time about ten years. Things started to drag and when the narrative finally did return to Satya's POV, she had become much less sympathetic and the writing had become tedious. It was repetitive and seemed to be trying too hard at times. I could have made a drinking game out of certain lines that kept being repeated over and over.

Much of the time, getting through this novel felt like a slog, though this is not entirely the author's fault. Something so long (500+ pages) just isn't a good idea during the school year. Only being able to read a few pages a night before falling asleep is not ideal. On the other hand, I didn't particularly like any of the major characters, even though I did occasionally sympathize with them. The language also made it challenging - a lot of terms were used that I didn't know the meaning of and there was no glossary.

On the positive side: this turned out to be an appropriate follow-up to Committed since there is much discussion about the inequality between men and women and how women get the short end of the stick in marriage here. Also, all of the family drama is set against the backdrop of India during the partition. I knew a bit about it from my high school World Religions course but this novel approaches it from a Sikh perspective, which I knew next to nothing about. I ended up learning a lot more about what was going on in India during that time and about the Sikh religion.

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