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The book tells the story of Grace, forced into a loveless marriage to a much older man, Judge Moran. Grace befriends and falls in love with an Indian doctor, Vikram. When she falls pregnant the judge knows the baby is not his and avoiding a potential scandal decides to act decisively but harshly. Soon after childbirth Grace is committed to a mental institution, Our Lady’s Asylum, Knockavanagh and Vikram is forced to leave Ireland and return to Bangalore, India believing that Grace died in childbirth. Grace’s daughter Emma is raised by the judge as his own.
Following the Judge’s death in the 1980’s Emma goes through his paperwork to discover the truth about her mother while at the same time we learn what became of te heartbroken Vikram and his family in India.
It is said that the book spans three decades but actually takes place in two time zones 30 years apart, the 1950’s and the 1980’s. The first half of the book is confusing and hard to follow because of the constant switching between the two time zones and countries and changes in the point of view character.
There was potential for a truly gritty book with a great storyline touching on so many injustices, not least of all forced marriages, racism, homosexuality, class distinction and the incarceration of “fallen” women in asylums. In the end it was all just very shallow. The characters weren’t adequately developed, their predicaments were laboured at a superficial level and I totally lost interest.
Out of respect for my book club persevered to the end but even the ‘shocking twist’ was totally predictable.
I really enjoyed this book and couldn't put it down. It kept me spellbound. I thought it was very clever the way it all worked out in the end. So nice to have a happy ending