Skip to main content

Made In Heaven - Review

We're coming up to the last week of the summer, but there's still time to get away and enjoy the last of the warm weather. And if you do, I know the perfect read for you to relax with.



SYNOPSIS:

When modern-language graduate Hema, orphaned and unloved from a young age, applies for a job one summer as an au pair to a little girl in the South of France, she doesn't imagine how her life will change as a result. Her employer, Rahul Raichura, is handsome, rich and charming. Her charge, Amelie, is sweet and loving. Hema thinks perhaps she has found the family she lacked, growing up; but first she has to contend with disapproval, secrets, and bitter memories. 

REVIEW:

This Jane Eyre-inspired romance with an Indian flavour will make the perfect light beach read for fans of Saz Vora’s other novels. Its more serious themes such as family loyalty, responsibility, and living with a disfigurement, are not laboured too much. Instead, they are woven around the passionate love story of au pair Hema, as she cares for five-year-old Amelie at the home of Amelie’s wealthy guardian, in the South of France.

As a Brontë enthusiast I enjoyed the nods to Jane Eyre – the first encounter in the lane showing Hema being almost knocked down by Rahul’s motor car, instead of almost trampled by Rochester’s horse. The tensions of the social classes of Jane Eyre are translated convincingly from the contempt of the upper classes towards a modest governess, to the snobbery of the wealthy Indian set towards the young au pair. Vora also explores cultural attitudes to physical disfigurement and disability, as she has in her previous novel Where Have We Come (read my review here) – a conversation that many might say is much-needed in South Asian communities.

Vora has taken Charlotte Brontë’s original story in a direction that plays down the Gothic horror elements and ramps up the romance. Apart from the age difference with Hema, Rahul is no Rochester, being handsome, earnest and missing the cutting sarcasm of Brontë’s gruff, Byronic hero. Hema is not so completely friendless as Jane either, making for a more relatable and self-assured heroine, and there are no real villains – only misunderstandings and tragic circumstances.

While Christian values and moral dilemmas are at the heart of Jane Eyre, Vora’s characters turn to their Hindu faith for strength and solace, and as a motif the book taps into the symbolism of fire as sacred and purifying rather than destructive, which works well within the overall context.

The book allows you to escape into a world of idyllic countryside, perfect weather and elegant dinner-parties, where guests wear couture sarees instead of the latest French crinoline gown, listen to old Bollywood love-songs instead of drawing-room piano recitals, and dine on mouthwatering Gujarati specialities instead of stodgy Victorian fare. As always, Vora gives the reader a complete sensual feast to evoke the sights, sounds and tastes of the world she creates. One for your beach bag.


Follow me on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

Join the conversation at The Brown Brontë's Book Club .


Comments

  1. Thank you for the review, my aim for this novel to provide, just that a summer read that takes you on a sensual journey, music, food and the backdrop of an escape to France. A romance, I hope the readers take something away from the themes. That beauty is in the beholder's eye, and it really doesn't matter.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Mahmood Mattan, Fortune Man: review

  I remember one time when my daughter, aged 10, came home from school, shocked that some countries still have the death penalty. ‘You mean they actually execute people?’ She asked. ‘Yes,’ I said. ‘But it’s the 21 st century!’ she said. ‘It’s cruel!’ ‘I know,’ I said. ‘We might think it shouldn’t happen, but it does.’ I was reminded of that conversation recently while reading Nadifa Mohamed’s The Fortune Men , alongside listening to Danielle Fahiya’s excellent BBC podcast Mattan: Injustice of a Hanged Man . Both the novel and the podcast tell of the wrongful conviction and hanging of Mahmood Mattan, a Somali Muslim seaman living in Cardiff’s Tiger Bay, in 1952. Mattan was accused of having brutally murdered a local shopkeeper, Lily Volpert (her name is changed in the book to Violet Volacki). Mattan maintained his innocence right to the end, but his appeals were unsuccessful, and he was hanged in Cardiff prison on 3 rd September 1952. His body was interred in the prison grou

Why Helen Graham is the Best Brontë Heroine

This month was Anne Bront ë ’s 200 th birthday, so I couldn’t let it go without writing a post in honour of it.  Anne Bronte, Project Gutenberg I don't think I'm alone in thinking that Anne was the boldest of her sisters. Her novel The Tenant of Wildfell Hall certainly is the bravest in rebelling against social expectations of women, and Helen Graham is by far my favourite heroine. Here’s why: 1.  She’s an adult, independent woman who has lived a full(er) life in society. Rather than living in the margins of society, in a state of arrested development, like Jane, Lucy, Agnes or even Cathy who never wanted to leave the moors, Helen’s previous life means she seems more like a well-rounded person. This might have made her story all the more shocking to Victorian audiences, as Helen’s social standing combined with her radical ideas would have been more likely to influence other people than those of a governess. She can’t be dismissed as just a naïve or unrelia

St George of Merrie England: History, Myth and Fairy Tale

Today - 23rd April - is St George's Day . Most of us are aware of St George's Mediterranean and Middle Eastern origins; Google says he was born to Greek parents but in fact his mother was from Syria and his father from what is now Anatolia, right in the middle of modern-day Turkey. Not much else is known about him other than that he was a soldier in the Roman army who was martyred for being Christian.  He is also venerated in the traditions of different cultures and faiths, including in some Middle Eastern and Mediterranean countries. The idea of patron saints is an interesting one to me - I've always thought that the fact that these saints hail from different parts of the world to the countries they are patron saints of, is a bit of a paradox. On the one hand their cultural and ethnic differences are overlooked in favour of the unifying aspect of their faith and values - but on the other hand, patron saints are a symbol of nationhood - and often co-opted by nationalists.