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Description - Tamarind Woman by Anita Rau Badami

Kamini has recently moved from India to Canada. Plunged into the past by acrimonious telephone calls and odd postcards from her mother, she tries to make sense of the eccentric family she has left behind. Why was her Mother as bitter as a tamarind with her lot in life? Why did she seem to love Roopa best, rubbing almond oil on her skin at bath-time and never scolding her for getting her sums wrong? And where did she disappear to while Dadda was away on business, leaving her daughters in the care of a superstitious old ayah? A wise and affectionate portrait of two generations of women in an Indian family, Tamarind Woman is a beautifully evocative novel that explores the mutability of memory and unravels the deep ties of love and resentment that bind mothers and daughters everywhere.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780747560210
ISBN-10: 0747560218
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 18mm)
Pages: 272
Imprint: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publish Date: 2-Sep-2002
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions - Tamarind Woman by Anita Rau Badami

Book Reviews - Tamarind Woman by Anita Rau Badami

UK Kirkus Review » Set in the era when India's railways were expanding at a rapid rate, Anita Rau Badami's first novel follows the lives of two women, a mother and a daughter, charting their tumultuous relationship as it metamorphoses from antipathy and despair to a sense of mutual understanding. But this is far more than a book about female relationships - it delves deep into the issues of memory and how different people have their own interpretation of past events. The book also examines the fluctuating line between reality and imagination: everyone here has a story to tell, be it ancient Indian mythology, unfulfilled fantasies or simply the truth. The novel has two heroines; Saroja Moorthy, the 'Tamarind Woman' of the title, so called because of her caustic tongue, and her daughter Kamini. Since childhood, Kamini has battled with her mother, believing that she favours her younger sister, and neglects her father whom she idolizes. Dadda is the only one to tell her stories, to show her any physical affection, to buy her little gifts when he returns from his tours of duty on the railway. Unable to understand her mother's pent-up frustration with her narrow existence, Kamini resents Saroja's outbursts of temper. With a child's acute perceptiveness, she is also aware of the sexual chemistry between her mother and the Anglo-Indian mechanic Paul da Costa. It is not until she reaches adulthood, however, and moves to Canada, that she begins to understand exactly what her mother was going through, and the sacrifices she made for the family. Saroja gives her own version of events in the second half of the book. To the abject horror of both her daughters, she refuses to move in with them and lead a quiet, respectable life, choosing instead to travel round India on the railways. Saroja seizes this opportunity with both hands, and from the stories she tells her fellow travellers, we learn that her life with Dadda had stifled her both academically and emotionally. Badami reminds us of the painfully deceptive nature of memory, but holds out hope for salvation in every fractured relationship. She writes beautiful, fluid prose, conjuring up an India pungent with the smells of rotting fruit, vibrant with colour and inextricably bound up with its tradition and mythology. This is a poignant study of a crumbling relationship between parent and child which is only redeemed when Kamini is mature enough to understand the truth about her mother. (Kirkus UK)

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Author Biography - Anita Rau Badami

Anita Rau Badami was born in India and lives in Vancouver.