Tuesday, August 19, 2014
The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar
Lakshmi is an Indian immigrant, a woman who came to America with her Indian husband in an arranged marriage. She expected love to slowly grow but six years have passed and they are still basically strangers. When she can no longer bear the loneliness and solitude of her life, she tries to commit suicide and is hospitalized. Her case is assigned to Maggie.
Maggie sees a spark in Lakshmi and flashes of intelligence and perseverance and she quickly feels a bond with her. Both are married to Indian men and both lost their mothers as young women. Maggie treats her for the short hospital stay and then exerts her medical authority to get Lakshmi into her private practice when her husband would ignore her issues. Maggie offers to treat Lakshmi for free, which she knows is not standard practice but perhaps necessary to get past the husband's disapproval.
As the weeks and months go by, the women become friends. Maggie and Sudhir help Lakshmi become independent and start a business on her own. But each woman is hiding a secret and as they learn each other's most private thoughts and actions, the bond creates the opportunity for betrayal.
Thrity Umrigar has written a novel that explores the themes of friendship, devotion and betrayal. What do we need in a marriage or a friendship? Are there actions that can't be forgiven, that cross the line of allowable mistakes? Readers will end the novel with much to think about as they review their own lives in the light of Maggie and Lakshmi's relationships. This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.