December 29, 2012
Little Women in India by Jane Nartin - Book Review
Little Women in India has been marketed as similar to the remakes of Pride & Prejudice and other classics. This story, however, is not about the same four sisters Louisa May Alcott wrote about. These four sisters- Catherine, Jane, Elizabeth, and Fanny May- live in India, and except for several years of school in England for Catherine- they have lived there all their lives. They live in British controlled India. Soon a mutiny arises and the sisters have to flee for their lives to a small village. They go into hiding to save their own lives. There they live with Indians and learn how the Indians live- they work like peasants, learn how the Company (aka the English) control every aspect of their lives including their very survival. The turning point comes when the Company finds the sisters in the village and it is kill or be killed.
I think Nardin did her homework on British India. She mentions Oudh, for example. At the beginning of the novel, there is a lot of racism, even when they are trying not to be racist. They do have Indian friends, but they are all servants. Toward the end, the racism amongst the May family has all but disappeared. It raises moral questions yet doesn't just spell out the answers for the reader, which is refreshing.
Sometimes there was unnecessary filler that did not move the story along. By the end I was tired of the sisters exhausting every avenue of a topic of conversation, practically repeating previous sentiments. I also tired of Catherine comparing everything to a novel. It was interesting at first to see this character development, but it came so often, especially in the last 10 pages, that I wanted to throw the book. Alas, it was an e-book.
I was pleased to discover that the ending was not all wrapped up neatly in a bow. There were loose ends and that is how it should have ended. I liked the Hindi words that were thrown in randomly, as well. It made it sound more authentic.
I give the book three and a half stars- I enjoyed reading it and I thought it was very imaginative and well-researched. It is worth reading.