Set in India during the reign of the British Raj, The Storyteller’s Secret weaves the lives of a long lost Indian grandmother and her American granddaughter together in an intricate pattern of love, duty, honor, tradition, and heartbreak.
Jaya, an Indian-American journalist, escapes the overwhelming grief of three miscarriages and an impeding divorce by following her Grandfather’s death bed summons, against her Mother’s wishes, to India. Expecting to reunite with her estranged Indian family, Jaya instead finds herself in an empty house full of secrets and cared for by her Grandmother’s best friend, Ravi. To ease her grief, Ravi gifts Jaya with the secret of her Grandmother Amisha’s story and the true history of her family.
The Storyteller’s Secret rotates through Amisha, Jaya and Ravi as narrators. Badani does an excellent job of fleshing out each character and developing their story lines equally, which allows the story to flow and mesh seamlessly. Badani does not gloss over India’s history of caste systems, the treatment of women or the living conditions in India. Nor does she use these things for shock value. These topics are presented very carefully and respectfully to the Indian culture while also very clearly showing how those practices and conditions affected the population. This took a very fine balance and I appreciated the way Badani’s writing allowed the reader to empathize with the characters on a deeper level while also respecting Indian customs, history and culture.
I loved the smells, sights, tastes and physical aspects of Badani’s writing, as well as the emotional depth she gave each character. While the majority of the story felt so very real and human, the ending took on a bit of a fairy-tale style wrap up. The ending also felt rushed compared to the rest of the book, almost like Badani was limited in pages. I would have loved a little bit more closure and a bit more of a messy ending.
All in all, the writing and the story were both beautifully done and with the last page, I was tempted to rush over to Amazon to buy a copy for one of my best friends. Amazon readers seem to agree. Despite being published a little less than five months ago, The Storyteller’s Secret already has over 5000 reviews. It is also the number 1 Kindle Romance book and hits the top 10 in the Amazon charts for Cultural Heritage, Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Contemporary Fiction.
If you’re looking for a historical fiction to take you out of your normal reading comfort zone, give The Storyteller’s Secret a read.
Until next time, Cheers!