What the Body Remembers

What the Body Remembers

Book - 1999
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Introducing an eloquent, sensual new Canadian voice that rings out in a first novel that is exquisitely rich and stunningly original. Roop is a sixteen-year-old village girl in the Punjab region of undivided India in 1937 whose family is respectable but poor -- her father is deep in debt and her mother is dead. Innocent and lovely, yet afraid she may not marry well, she is elated when she learns she is to become the second wife of a wealthy Sikh landowner, Sardarji, whose first wife, Satya, has failed to bear him any children. Roop trusts that the strong-willed Satya will treat her as a sister, but their relationship becomes far more ominous and complicated than expected. Roop's tale draws the reader immediately into her world, making the exotic familiar and the family's story startlingly universal, butWhat the Body Remembersis also very much Satya's story. She is mortified and angry when Sardarji takes Roop for a wife, a woman whose low status Satya takes as an affront to her position, and she adopts desperate measures to maintain her place in society and in her husband's heart. Yet it is also Sardarji's story, as the India he knows and understands -- the temples, cities, villages and countryside, all so vividly evoked -- begins to change. The escalating tensions in his personal life reflect those between Hindu and Muslim that lead to the cleaving of India and trap the Sikhs in a horrifying middle ground. Deeply imbued with the languages, customs and layered history of colonial India,What the Body Remembersis an absolute triumph of storytelling. Never before has a novel of love and partition been told from the point of view of the Sikh minority, never before through Sikh women's eyes. This is a novel to read, treasure and admire that, like its two compelling heroines, resists all efforts to be put aside.
Publisher: Toronto : Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 1999
Edition: 1st ed. --
ISBN: 9780676972214
Branch Call Number: FIC/Baldw 359401 1
Characteristics: 515 p. : map


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Oct 01, 2011

This is the story of Roop, a young Indian woman whose kismat (destiny, fate) it is to become the second wife of a wealthy man. This book gives an interesting view of British colonialism as seen through Indian eyes, but unfortunately, the author does not take chances in her writing (HINT: Isn't Tuesday a bad day for travelling?).

graphiste Jan 10, 2010

Beautifully written story that takes you into the heart of a culture and a kaleidoscope of personal perspectives.

Jun 21, 2009

This multi-layered story set against the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan absorbs, edifies and involves the reader on so many different levels. It's a fascinating historical perspective on how societies and communities were torn asunder when India was seemingly randomly split across geographical and religious lines. It's an engrossing cultural study of different religions and practices. It's also an intimate portrait of a marriage involving three people - a successful Sikh landowner, his strong-willed and opinionated first wife and his young, idealistic and somewhat bewildered second wife. Tying these myriad strands together is the informing presence and resonance of the title, as "What the Body Remembers" spans everything from the connections between mothers and children and husbands and wives, to what a body such as a country or community retains or does not when it is broken apart ... and even that idea takes on a striking literal form during the book's explosive and unforgettable ending.

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