Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Tree Bride by Bharati Mukherjee

I love India - it's long and painful history; it's contradictory relationship with the British; it's natural beauty; it's complex, layered society; it's religious "stew"; it's all-or-nothing climate. There is always pleasure to be found in a book about India (remember the City of God by Dominique Lapierre?)

So... I couldn't wait to get started on this book. Mukherjee tells a story that spans cultures, countries and centuries, and she does it was such skill that one story flows naturally out of the other, and we can skip around between stories and feel how it all connects. But, I left the book feeling like I still didn't know who the "tree bride" was. Turns out that I should have read "Desirable Daughters" first... :-(

One of the most curious aspects of this book is it's exploration of the connectivity between us all: the moments, people and history that ties us together. Is this destiny or just co-incidence, and does it matter?
"Information (about our family history) feels like the glue of the universe, one of those unimaginable calculations of time and distance, but one that restores a bit of human scale of the ungraspable proportions of space. But there are days, and this is one of them, when the trillion-trillion random particles actualy seem reducible to a simple formula. Why not? A drop of blood reveals all of human history." (The Tree Bride, pg 234/5)

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