I am ashamed to admit that before reading Independence, the new and powerful novel by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, my knowledge of the partition of India was extremely limited – I didn’t realise it was so bloody, violent and full of hate. I appreciate that reading historical fiction is not a valid account of events and I need to educate myself more, but praise needs to be given to Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni as Independence is such a captivating and insightful read. I was completely consumed as it depicts how communities were destroyed and families torn apart. Yet it is also portrays the power of love, family and friendship across a heart breaking divide. It is a novel full of hope.
It is also a novel about the true strength and determination of women, which I love.
The novel opens in a Bengali village in August 1946 with India on the brink of partition as it begins to narrate the powerful story of three very different sisters. Priya, Deepa and Jamini are from a well-respected Hindu family, the daughters of a loving, idealistic and very kind doctor who has been hopeful of India’s independence for a long time. Against the odds Priya is determined to follow in her father’s footsteps and become a doctor; her mother’s favourite, Deepa is keen to marry well and increase her family’s fortunes; and Jamini, always dutiful but we discover she is hiding resentments and a secret unrequited love.
A dramatic and brutal tragedy striking the family sets in motion a series of events that changes the sheltered lives of the three sisters for ever, as well as their relationship as sisters. Especially as Deepa defies her mother and falls madly in love with a Muslim, casting her out of her loving family and all that she knows.
Told from the unique point of view of each sister, Independence is rich in historical detail as it authentically tell the story of people living through the heart breaking and horrific impact of the partition, especially the courage of women, the bond between them and the dangers they were living in:
You are a daughter of independence, the country’s future…You may fall from time to time. We all did. What is important is to get up again.
Released very recently on 16 February 2023, Independence stirred me emotionally. I also found it a really exciting read as I was thrust in to the sisters dangerous pursuits to save their family and each other.
If you are like me and a lover of historical fiction, I strongly recommend you read Independence.
Thank you to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to the blog tour of this captivating novel. To read the reviews from my fellow book bloggers and follow the tour, please see below.