Monday, August 25, 2014
The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar
Published August 2014 by Harper
Source: my copy courtesy of the publisher and TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review
An experienced psychologist, Maggie carefully maintains emotional distance from her patients. But when she agrees to treat a young Indian woman who tried to kill herself, her professional detachment disintegrates. Cut off from her family in India, and trapped in a loveless marriage to a domineering man who limits her world to their small restaurant and grocery store, Lakshmi is desperately lonely. Moved by Lakshmi’s plight, Maggie offers to see her as an outpatient for free. In the course of their first sessions in Maggie’s home office, she quickly realizes that what Lakshmi really needs is not a shrink but a friend. Determined to empower Lakshmi as a woman who feels valued in her own right, Maggie abandons protocol, and soon doctor and patient become close. Even though they seemingly have nothing in common, both women are haunted by loss and truths that they are afraid to reveal.
However, crossing professional boundaries has its price. As Maggie and Lakshmi’s relationship deepens, long-buried secrets come to light that shake their faith in each other and force them to confront painful choices in their own lives.
I'll be back again tomorrow with my final thoughts on this book - I'm still finishing it up. What with the busy week I had last week, some problems with reading malaise, and the difficulty I had reading this book, I'm not quite finished.
Ms. Umrigar shifts narrative between a third person narrative for Maggie's parts of the book and a first person narrative for Lakshmi's narrative. The difficulty lies in the fact that Lakshmi's narrative is all written in the voice of an Indian immigrant first learning to speak English. It takes considerably more concentration to read and I'm not sure it was necessary. After all, wouldn't Lakshmi's narrative to us be in her native tongue as it would either be her thoughts or her telling us her story in her most natural way. It does serve to show how she changes as the book progresses but it slows the reading. And I'm prone to read Umrigar's books slowly as it is, loving her stories and not wanting to be done with them too quickly!