Secret Daughter: A Novel

by Shilpi Gowda

HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERS | March 1, 2010 | Hardcover

Secret Daughter: A Novel is rated 4.1667 out of 5 by 12.

On the eve of the monsoons, in a remote Indian village, Kavita gives birth to a baby girl. But in a culture that favors sons, the only way for Kavita to save her newborn daughter''s life is to give her away. It is a decision that will haunt her and her husband for the rest of their lives, even after the arrival of their cherished son.

Halfway around the globe, Somer, an American doctor, decides to adopt a child after making the wrenching discovery that she will never have one of her own. When she and her husband, Krishnan, see a photo of the baby with the gold-flecked eyes from a Mumbai orphanage, they are overwhelmed with emotion. Somer knows life will change with the adoption but is convinced that the love they already feel will overcome all obstacles.

Interweaving the stories of Kavita, Somer, and the child that binds both of their destinies, Secret Daughter poignantly explores the emotional terrain of motherhood, loss, identity, and love, as witnessed through the lives of two families?one Indian, one American?and the child that indelibly connects them.

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 352 pages, 3.69 × 2.51 × 0.46 in

Published: March 1, 2010

Publisher: HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERS

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0061922315

ISBN - 13: 9780061922312

Found in: Fiction and Literature

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Satisfying and disturbing Canadian first-time author Shilpi Somaya Gowda has written a compelling story that had me from the beginning. Born in Toronto, Canada, to parents from Bombay, India, she had insight and good understanding of both cultures. She mostly told the story from the perspective of three women – the adopted daughter, the adoptive mother and the birth mother. It was involved and interesting and hard to put down once I started reading. I don’t want to give away too much and spoil it for you, but for anyone who has adopted from another country, or is thinking about it, this book gives a different view of some of the things to take into consideration. The characters are well-developed, their life situations are convincing and detailed, and the reader gets to share in the story of their lives over a span of twenty-five years. It was easy to care about them. In fact, I experienced a range of emotions as I read this international bestseller. I liked how the author headed her chapters with not only the title, but also the location, date, and name of the person the reader was visiting in that chapter. Each chapter is only a few pages long which made it easy to read when having only a few minutes. It also helped the reader get oriented right from the start and occasionally helped the author step over a span of several years to move along in the story. It was well done. The only thing I did not like is the way the author chose to end this novel, although it is quite believable the way it happened. Obviously the ending did not interfere with the book’s success. Even so, if you are one who likes to read the end of a book first … in this case DON’T! Please, do yourself the favour of not peeking. It is well worth the wait. There has been criticism that the author ignored or changed some things about the culture of India to fit her story, but I don’t agree. In a couple of places I had questions, too, but since I have never studied their culture nor have I visited that country, I accepted that perhaps it was something that is changing there with the times. I believed the author would know that, so I didn’t let my lack of information get in the way of a great read.
Date published: 2013-10-24
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Horrible I can't finish The Secret Daughter. It sucks. I can't stand it. As an adoptive mother, I am put off that the author did not do her homework and bother to use any proper adoption language. She leaves the reader, thus far, assuming that adopted children are incomplete. That they do not find satisfaction or fulfillment in being adopted. That they will always wonder who they are. Well ... politely put, PISH POSH! There's the feeling that an adoptive mother will always long for their "real" child and that the adoptive child will always long for their "true" family. And I really don't like that the adoptive mother pretty much doesn't even allow anything culturally related to that of her husband and adoptive daughter into her life, or even her home. Talk about self centered. I like to read to relax in the evening. I've been avoiding reading for weeks because I hate this book. I'm not finishing this book. So perhaps the ending is something worth reading to, but at this point in my very busy life, I'd rather forget about it and read something else more fulfilling to me.
Date published: 2014-01-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Couldn't put this book down!! This book has an awesome story line!! I loved every page of the book and I have to admit that I am sad that it's over. The story was heartbreaking at times but WOW was it good! Great story ---- I would definately recommend it.
Date published: 2013-10-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Read!! This is a truly an amazing story! I could not put this down and completely enjoyed it from the first page to the last. Wonderfully written with rich details of India and it's culture - made me feel like I was there!! Donna Sood
Date published: 2013-10-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Torn I really enjoyed this book, but alike others that touches on poverty, abuse and the realistic and horrible experiences that women experience, I feel torn. I enjoyed the closeness of family that people of India have. I enjoyed the discussion of Indian tradition. It was beautiful. Then on the other side of the scale was the wide spread poverty, pollution and absolute devastation that the main character has to endure throughout her life as a mother, wife and a strong woman living in India.
Date published: 2013-10-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A deeply moving novel This book was great! I loved reading about the relationship between mother and child, how this mother stopped at nothing to give her family all she could, and it was also interesting to have two completely different worlds contrasted so severely and yet somehow they overlap making it seem like they are not so different after all. This book definately made me realize how good i've got it!
Date published: 2013-10-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Moving Story About Mothers & Daughters The story of Asha and her journey to discover where she belongs was deeply moving. This is a story about women and their love for their children. A love that sometimes leads to painful sacrifices, denial, difficult choices and hopefully forgiveness and redemption.
Date published: 2013-10-28
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Moving! This is definately a great read. The story follows two families on two different continents and spans decades. I loved watching Asha grow up and attempt to find out where she belongs. The scenery is rich and the characters well developed.
Date published: 2013-10-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Highly Recommended!!! One of the best books I have read in a long time that incorporates so much without overwhelming the reader. The story revolves around 2 couples and the child that shares a bond with both. One couple, the biological parents are in India, the adoptive parents are in the US. This novel which spans over 25 years gives us great insight into many experiences involving family, Indian culture, interacial relationships,search for one's own identity and the peace that comes from finding one's own identity.There is so much more to this novel that I can possibly say .We are graced with excellent writing, some great characters and a story that flows seamlessly throughout the book.. Highly recommended!!!!
Date published: 2013-10-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic Read 10/10 I absolutely recommend this book to anyone interested in reading about Indian culture. I have read some disappointing books lately, this book was great. It made me cry, and it made me think about the circle of life. Ms. Gowda writes with such detail that you feel like you are living within the lives of the characters. They become a part of you. I didn't want it to end. I am anxiously waiting for Ms. Gowda to write her next novel. Buy this book. You won't be disappointed.
Date published: 2013-10-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Deeply moving and thought-provoking This is truly one of the best books I have read in a long time, and one I will recommend widely. I find that most books I enjoy fall into one of two categories: either they have a compelling, well-paced story that keeps me very engaged and looking forward to the next time I read; or they are beautifully written and keep me thinking about the issues raised for a long time afterwards. It is rare for a book to do both, but this one manages to do so. On the surface, this is the story of a child born in terrible circumstances, the twist of fate that changes her life, and her adolescent search for self that creates ripples with the people who surround her. Yet there are many more layers to this novel. There is great complexity in the relationships between parent and child, and husband and wife, making them both realistic and heartbreaking. There are the questions of class, education, gender and culture in our globalized society, so beautifully illustrated through two seemingly opposite families. The characters are imperfect, but they all learn and grow through their experiences. The author’s style is one of simple, elegant prose. There is no melodrama here (though that would be easy to do with this story): each and every emotional reaction garnered from the reader (and there are many) is thoughtfully-crafted and deserved. To me, it was as compelling and vivid as The Kite Runner, but better written. I found it similar in style to Jhumpa Lahiri’s books, but with a more interesting plot. The ending is beautiful, satisfying and unexpected. I had tears in my eyes for the last several chapters. Even though this book is geared towards women, I encouraged my husband to read it, which he did, straight through one weekend, and loved it. I plan to share it with both my parents and my children, and I know it will make a great discussion for my book club. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2013-10-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Secret is out... As a first novelist I'm impressed with the tapestry built around the main characters as their stories unfold and intertwine throughout two continents. A beautifully written story on personal and cultural identity.A great personal and book club read!
Date published: 2013-10-28

– More About This Product –

Secret Daughter: A Novel

by Shilpi Gowda

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 352 pages, 3.69 × 2.51 × 0.46 in

Published: March 1, 2010

Publisher: HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERS

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0061922315

ISBN - 13: 9780061922312

About the Book

Moving between two worlds and two families, one struggling to survive in the fetid slums of Mumbai, the other grappling to forge a cohesive family despite their diverging cultural identities, this powerful debut novel marks the arrival of a fresh talent.

From the Publisher

On the eve of the monsoons, in a remote Indian village, Kavita gives birth to a baby girl. But in a culture that favors sons, the only way for Kavita to save her newborn daughter''s life is to give her away. It is a decision that will haunt her and her husband for the rest of their lives, even after the arrival of their cherished son.

Halfway around the globe, Somer, an American doctor, decides to adopt a child after making the wrenching discovery that she will never have one of her own. When she and her husband, Krishnan, see a photo of the baby with the gold-flecked eyes from a Mumbai orphanage, they are overwhelmed with emotion. Somer knows life will change with the adoption but is convinced that the love they already feel will overcome all obstacles.

Interweaving the stories of Kavita, Somer, and the child that binds both of their destinies, Secret Daughter poignantly explores the emotional terrain of motherhood, loss, identity, and love, as witnessed through the lives of two families?one Indian, one American?and the child that indelibly connects them.

About the Author

On the eve of the monsoons, in a remote Indian village, Kavita gives birth to a baby girl. But in a culture that favors sons, the only way for Kavita to save her newborn daughter's life is to give her away. It is a decision that will haunt her and her husband for the rest of their lives, even after the arrival of their cherished son.

Halfway around the globe, Somer, an American doctor, decides to adopt a child after making the wrenching discovery that she will never have one of her own. When she and her husband, Krishnan, see a photo of the baby with the gold-flecked eyes from a Mumbai orphanage, they are overwhelmed with emotion. Somer knows life will change with the adoption but is convinced that the love they already feel will overcome all obstacles.

Interweaving the stories of Kavita, Somer, and the child that binds both of their destinies, Secret Daughter poignantly explores the emotional terrain of motherhood, loss, identity, and love, as witnessed through the lives of two families—one Indian, one American—and the child that indelibly connects them.

Editorial Reviews

The Secret Daughter is a deeply moving and timeless story of an adopted daughter?s long distance search for cultural identity and acceptance; first with the mother who raised her, and ultimately with the mother who gave her up. (Kathleen Kent, author of The Heretic''s Daughter)
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