A Mother’s Secret is Renita D’Silva’s fifth book although it is the first one I have read. I very much enjoyed it. The book is set in London and India and the story is told in the voices of the main female characters.
Firstly there is Durga in India, a young girl whose parents are in hospital following a serious accident. Durga has been labelled as difficult, rude and badly behaved although her parents simply thought her ‘spirited’. She travels to Gaddehalli with an aunt who will leaving her with her Grandmother who apparently lives with a madwoman in an old ruined house on the hill above the village. The villagers are shocked that anyone is going there. They believe the old mansion is cursed and there are ghosts. Durga is apprehensive about this especially as she doesn’t know her grandmother.
Then there is Jaya in London who has suffered recent loss. Firstly her mother Sudha died suddenly before Jaya could tell her she was pregnant, then Jaya’s son died, a victim of cot death. Jaya had never known her father and her mother never spoke about the past despite Jaya asking questions. She had worked hard to provide for Jaya but never spoke of her husband or of her life in India.
It is only when Jaya’s therapist encourages Jaya to go through her mother’s possessions that Jaya finds her mother’s diaries and some photographs of a little boy that she begins to learn of her mother’s life. One of the photographs has the word “Gaddehalli” written on the back. Jaya’s mother’s past is slowly revealed in her diaries. I found Sudha’s story heartbreaking, especially the way she was treated by her parents.
The other voice in the story is Kali whose mind goes from the present to the past. She also has a tale to tell involving love, loss, deceit, envy, pride, heartache. She is an interesting and complex character.
The ending is pretty good, if slightly unexpected (I knew the women would be connected somehow but hadn’t worked out just how).
Renita D’Silva has given us a well written, entertaining and satisfying story full of interesting characters and I’m now looking forward to reading her other novels.
Renita’s website gives more information about her other novels and you can also download an excerpt from her first novel Monsoon Memories here