Monsoon Summer

Julia Gregson. S&S/Touchstone, $25.99 (464p) ISBN 978-1-4767-2526-0
This ambitious historical novel from Gregson (East of the Sun) follows British nurse and aspiring midwife Kit Smallwood, who marries an Oxford-educated doctor, Anto Thekkeden, and moves with him to India shortly after the country gains independence in 1947 . Haunted by the death of a baby on her watch, Kit is reluctant to pursue her midwife certificate. Nonetheless, she promises family friend Daisy Barker that she’ll help get Daisy’s favorite charity, a clinic for poor women called the Moonstone, up and running. Kit and Anto soon realize that their idealistic plans will be challenged by Anto’s wealthy high-caste family. Kit is especially disparaged by Anto’s mother, Kunjamma, who hoped that after his long absence abroad he would marry a local girl of similar status. Kit learns that the Moonstone is in dire need of staff and supplies, and begins to dedicate more and more of her time to the increasingly risky job, much to her new family’s chagrin. Strong characters make Gregson’s novel a powerhouse. The need to preserve honor and avoid shame drives the Thekkeden clan and leads them to keep secrets from one another that snowball. Kit’s desire to help people eventually gets her into trouble with both her family and the law. Gregson does a fantastic job of pitting conventional ways against progressive thinking without demonizing either side. This story covers a lot of ground—family vs. the other, new vs. old, science vs. superstition—and only falters when bending the plot a certain way at convenient points. This small flaw doesn’t detract from a powerful and memorable novel. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 10/03/2016
Release date: 08/01/2016
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 464 pages - 978-1-5011-3976-5
Open Ebook - 432 pages - 978-1-4767-2530-7
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