Koyal Dark, Mango Sweet ) great-aunt’s childhood, this absorbing, atmospheric novel opens in 1918 India, as pretty, 12-year-old Leel"/>
 

Keeping Corner

Kashmira Sheth, Author
Kashmira Sheth, Author . Hyperion $15.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-7868-3859-2
Reviewed on: 11/05/2007
Release date: 10/01/2007
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-7868-3860-8
Prebound-Glued - 272 pages - 978-0-606-14060-7
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Based on Sheth’s (Koyal Dark, Mango Sweet ) great-aunt’s childhood, this absorbing, atmospheric novel opens in 1918 India, as pretty, 12-year-old Leela enjoys the pampering of her parents and the affections of her in-laws, whose house she will enter after her anu ceremony the following year. But when her husband dies of snakebite, Leela faces an altogether different fate as a widow. Because her family is brahman , Leela must relinquish all her jewelry and pretty saris, shave her head and, for an entire year, stay indoors, or “keep corner.” With encouragement from her older brother and help from her teacher, a disciple of Gandhi and his advocacy for social change, Leela finds the strength to challenge tradition as the year of keeping corner evolves. Sheth expertly weaves rich descriptions into the day-to-day activities (“Ideas sank into my mind like monsoon rain into soil”). Although readers unfamiliar with Indian history may not grasp the use of India’s independence as a metaphor for Leela’s growth, they will thoroughly identify with the heroine as she develops from a pleasure-seeking girl into an intelligent young woman: “Your inner self is like an onion,” she realizes, “you keep peeling it and a new layer is always there.”Ages 12-up. (Oct.)

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