Secret Daughter

by Shilpi Gowda

HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERS | March 1, 2010 | Trade Paperback

Secret Daughter is rated 4.2174 out of 5 by 92.

In a tiny hut in rural India, Kavita gives birth to Asha. Unable to afford the ''luxury'' of raising a daughter, her husband forces Kavita to give the baby up--a decision that will haunt them both for the rest of their lives.

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 her husband Krishnan shows her a photo of baby Asha sent to him from a Mumbai orphanage, she falls instantly in love. As she waited for adoption to be finalized, she knew her life would change. But she was convinced that the love she already felt would overcome all obstacles.

In a braided narrative that unites the stories of Kavita, Somer and Asha, SECRET DAUGHTER, the debut novel by Shilpi Somaya Gowda, explores the emotional terrain of motherhood, loss and belonging. As the story moves between the two families, one struggling to eke out an existence in Mumbai, the other grappling with the challenge of raising a brownskinned child from another culture, Gowda poignantly parses issues of culture, identity and familial loyalty

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 352 pages, 9.13 × 6.13 × 0.93 in

Published: March 1, 2010

Publisher: HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERS

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0061974307

ISBN - 13: 9780061974304

Found in: Fiction and Literature
During the hazy, lazy days of summer, nothing is better than settling into a great read – the kind of story you can’t put down. "Secret Daughter" by Canadian born Shilpi Somaya Gowda is just such a story. On the evening of the monsoons, in a remote Indian village, a heartbroken Kavita is forced to give away the baby she has long dreamed of having. After all, the baby is a girl and the poor in India simply can’t afford that luxury. Halfway around the world, in the enclave of Palo Alto – home of Stanford University – American-born Somer and her Indian husband Krishnan learn that they are unable to conceive. Eventually, their passion to have a child leads them to an orphanage in Mumbai and to the baby that Kavita has left behind. Interweaving the stories of Kavita and 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 eyes of two families – one Indian, one American – and the child that indelibly connects them all. Gowda’s story unfolds in rich colour as she transports the reader seamlessly between the tree lined suburb of Palo Alto and the teeming streets of Mumbai - complete with the smells, the unthinkable poverty, and the richness of cultural traditions that span the centuries. This is a book to read and savour and then pass on to everyone you know.

save 27%

  • In stock online

$15.19  ea

Online Price

$19.99 List Price

or, Used from $5.04

eGift this item

Give this item in the form of an eGift Card.

+ what is this?

This item is eligible for FREE SHIPPING on orders over $25.
See details

Easy, FREE returns. See details

Item can only be shipped in Canada

Downloads instantly to your kobo or other ereading device. See details

All available formats:

Check store inventory (prices may vary)

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoyable 3.75 stars Kavita and her husband, Jasu, live in a small village in India can't afford more than one child. Because boys are more wanted than girls, when Kavita's second girl is born (the first was killed), she insists on taking her to an orphanage in Bombay. Meanwhile, in California, American Somer and her husband Kris (from India), both doctors, have just discovered that they won't be able to have their own biological kids. They decide to adopt a little girl from an orphanage in India. This little girl, Asha, just happens to be Kavita and Jasu's baby. The story is told from different points of view, mostly Kavita's and Somer's, but other characters get some chapters, and Asha gets quite a few chapters, especially as she gets older and moves away from home. Probably some of my favourite chapters were from Asha's point of view. I quite liked the book, but I liked it more while I was reading. Once I put it down, it didn't really draw me back to it. Overall, though, it was enjoyable.
Date published: 2013-02-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Kept My Attention I enjoyed this book although I kept picturing scenes from Slumdog Millionaire. I would recommend this book. I enjoyed how the author looked at marriages and the different relationships throughout. The ending is not predictable.
Date published: 2013-02-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from female gendercide and and adoption A heartwarming story about one mom making a selfless decision to have her babygirl adopted before she could be killed.And teh family that adopted the girl.
Date published: 2012-11-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Lovely Story A few people recommended I read Secret Daughter and I was not disappointed. It was a lovely story. I really enjoy reading stories that take place in India.
Date published: 2012-07-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Captivating This book did take just a bit of work to get into but when I did it was great. You truly invest in the characters. If you liked books like "The Kite Runner" than you will enjoy this one.
Date published: 2012-07-07
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Liked it but felt it was missing something This book was an ok read, enjoyed the story line and learned a few things about the culture. Felt like it was missing something more of a touching feel from the characters or to be more captivated by this novel.
Date published: 2012-07-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Engaging Story I was really pleasantly surprised by this novel. I expected it to be heavier somehow, being written by an author of Indian decent, about the adoption of an Indian orphan to an inter-racial Indian-American couple. I find that a lot of novels set in India (one of my favorite settings btw) tend to get bogged down in the caste system, and it is also my experience that most Indian families seriously frown upon inter-racial dating/marriage. Yes, Gowda explores the caste system, and yes, she also addresses the cultural challenges involved with inter-racial marriage, but never in a way that overshadows the story she is trying to tell. This is a story about adoption, and is told from three different perspectives. The adoptive parents, the biological parents and the adopted child. I loved how well rounded this novel felt, I felt like I really got to know and understand all of these characters, and was genuinely involved in the story. I can easily recommend this novel, and look forward to seeing more from this author!
Date published: 2012-02-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A wonderful read - great for a book club! I started reading Secret Daughter on the recommendation of my mother-in-law who was reading the same novel. I don’t remember where or when I bough this particular novel, but I never felt compelled to read it until I found someone else who was reading it. From the first chapter, I wondered why I waited so long to start — Secret Daughter, by Shilpi Somaya Gowda, is an intriguing, engrossing read with a wonderful message. Secret Daughter is the story of Kavita, who gives birth to Asha one night in India. Unfortunately, Kavita lives in a place that favours the birth of sons–not daughters. So, Asha is put up for adoption and is adopted out to an American family. I’ve always found myself interested in adopted children who want to find their birth parents. I understand some of the reasoning, like finding out health history, or just getting the history–the story–of the family you were born into. Though, I also wonder, if a person is adopted into a good family, has a good life, a loving household, why they would want to seek out their birth parents. Health-wise, what happens will happen, in most cases regardless of what you know. But maybe that’s just me. Secret Daughter is the story of Asha, a girl who is born into an Indian family. At that time it was better for a family to have a boy in the family–someone who could work when they grew up and wouldn’t cost the family a huge dowry when they marry. It was a terrible thing to read, this country that favours sons over daughters, but it happens. Asha is adopted into an American family and, as she grows, finds herself wanting to find out where she came from. The story is beautifully written–quite similar to The Namesake. Gowda paints a beautiful portrait of both India and life in America and I found myself relating to Asha throughout the novel. I understood her curiosity and was intrigued by her trips to India. I think what got to me was that the life she was curious about had two sides — one that could have been beautiful, born into a wealthy family, living on the “good” side of India; or another where she could have been born into the “bad” side of India, an India of poverty, where the job of the woman is to tend to the house and her husband. There was so much going on in this novel and Gowda weaved each item in effortlessly — family, adoption, abortion, motherhood, death, castes, love, marriage, relationships, home. I loved it all and was happy with the message that the novel gives, that at some point, the family you create means more than the family you are born into. Secret Daughter was a wonderful read — I’d recommend it to anyone. In fact, it would make a great book-club read.
Date published: 2012-02-11
Rated 1 out of 5 by from WORST BOOK EVER I picked this up because so many people have said such good things about it, I could not even get to the halfway point, I found the characters to be very one dimensional and the dialogue very uninspired.
Date published: 2012-01-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good Book I enjoyed reading this book. It has a good story line.
Date published: 2012-01-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from pretty good- got some learning done hidden gem at the back of my bf's mom book shelf. all the characters get to speak and as the reader you can hear their side of the story or perspective. great novel about different family generations, parent and child relations, culture differences and learning for all the characters and reader. gives you slight glimpses into Indian culture and tradition. Some stereotypes, but nothing offending. Smooth easy read. I assumed a predictable ending, but it was surprising to read the ending was not the usual. you will like the characters. i related to asha, because she is in teh same age category as me. i can agreed with her points of view, but at the same time i completely agreed with somer as well. sit back, relax and get into this book. nothing in depth or heartfelt, but it is a good story.
Date published: 2011-12-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from pretty good this book was not crazy fantastic. but it was definitely interesting to read, it gives you insight into how very different living situations are in different parts of the world. i did enjoy reading this book and have already recommened for my sister to read it and though she is not yet done it, she is enjoying it.
Date published: 2011-12-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely great Just started to read it and cannot put the book down. A good friend of mine suggested this book and it is an amazing story and honestly total reality
Date published: 2011-11-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great I really enjoyed reading this novel! The story was touching and although I thought it would end differently I was pleased with the way it turned out! I would absolutely recommend this novel to anyone (and already have)!
Date published: 2011-11-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Just great!! I have been off the reading boat for about 6 months; nothing interested me. I decided to look again for a book that might interest me. I FOUND IT!!! This book was amazing - read in in 1 day. Excellent writing, captivating storyline. The characters were deep and interesting. Nothing about this book disappoints.
Date published: 2011-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from BEST READ THIS YEAR I LOVED THIS BOOK. COULD'NT PUT IT DOWN. IT'S NOW ONE OF MY FAVOURITE BOOKS OF ALL TIME.
Date published: 2011-08-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Highly recommended This was a very interesting and easy read - a wonderful contrast between two societies, their society, outlooks and way of life. I went on to read another of her books
Date published: 2011-08-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Touching Story and easy to read. A story about how peoples lives are changed in a moment with just one decision. This story shifts between two story lines - one in India and one in the US by following the birth mother, the daughter and the adoptive mother. When it was finished I ended up being a bit disappointed that it was over, as I was hoping for a different ending. An easy read with likable characters, I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about other cultures, and the roles of families.
Date published: 2011-08-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Too Good to Put Down An amazing story of separate lives that intertwine in ways that you would never expect. Anyone who enjoys a tear-jerker should pick this book up. Not only does the book follow the lives of the children, but the lives of the adults involved are analyzed and their flaws become epically evident. This book shows that everyone's life affects someone else's, even without knowing so.
Date published: 2011-08-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Couldn't put it down I read it in one day - what a page turner! I felt an enormous connection to all characters and was able to follow all of the changes they went through with unparalleled attention. It made me swell up with tears so often I felt a bit embarrassed. The only criticism would be that sometimes it felt a little too simple and maybe at times a bit predictable. But that was smoothed over by powerful emotion and deftly constructed narrative. Beautiful book!
Date published: 2011-07-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful and moving As soon as I started this book, I could not put it down. I found the story line to be very interesting and well paced. The human emotions conveyed in this book were realistic and relatable and the ending left me feeling happy, sad, uplifted, disappointed and everything in between. Instead of separating the characters into the dichotomy of good and bad (or hero or villain), the author does a great job of portraying them in a very complex manner that is representative of real life, showing that there are both good and flaws in everyone. Another thing to note, is how beautifully the book is written. There were some paragraphs that were worth a second and even a third read because they were so poetic and moving. I highly recommend this amazing book.
Date published: 2011-07-17
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Overrated Did not find this book to be a compelling read at all. The story line ought to have been engaging, but I found the characters were so flat and uninteresting that I just didn't feel a vested interest in what happened next.
Date published: 2011-07-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful I loved the way the book spoke to me because it was one of the most heartfelt books I have ever read.
Date published: 2011-07-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A wonderful story I had been wanting to read this book for quite a while but had so many others on the list that I pushed this aside. I finally picked it up 2 weeks ago and completely fell in love with the writer and the book. It has been a long time where I could connect with each character - what they were feeling and thinking. This book has become a top 5 favourite in a list that includes A Fine Balance, To Kill a Mockingbird and Anna Karenina. Ms. Gowda writes with such poise. I think for the first time in my life, I could understand the devestating effects of a miscarriage. My husband and I want to adopt children and this book gave me a glimpse of what it must be like for someone who doesn't know where they came from. I would highly recommend this book.
Date published: 2011-06-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Something missing... I have to say that I really did enjoy this book. I enojyed the realness and the descriptions. It was really easy to picture India based on her illustrations. It did not seem like a made up representation. I felt the story was really good. It was very unpredictable and that can be rare. One thing I felt was missing was more about the adoptive mother. You didn't really get a sense of her family background. There should have been more development there. All in all, this was a great book that I would reccommend to anyone who can appreciate the traditions and diversity in other cultures.
Date published: 2011-06-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Intriging You will find yourself so captivated by Kavita's story that you really will resist putting this book down, from the first few pages all the way through to the end. The author Shilpi Somaya Gowda tells Kavita's story in such a way that every description will pull you away from your surroundings and make you feel as though you are right there with Kavita in her village in India. A heart-wrenching story and one that truly represents a realistic depiction of the plights faced by women in poverty.
Date published: 2011-05-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Touching This was a great, easy read. I finished it in one sitting. The story was touching and I loved the various perspectives. They were all interesting and I was never bored.
Date published: 2011-05-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Pulled the strings of my heart From the start, this book touched me emotionally - being both daughter and mother. It is well-written, absorbing, and a worthwhile read. Highly recommended!
Date published: 2011-05-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Girl Power! I found this book so easy to read because of the short chapters. The viewpoints from so many characters made it interesting and I loved the cultural component, it made me want to visit India right now! I thought the women in this story were powerful and full of love. A must-read for mothers and daughters so that we can fully appreciate that bond.
Date published: 2011-04-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent! I couldnt put the book down, and could not wait for the next page to turn! It is a wonderful book to read and share!
Date published: 2011-04-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing A captivating read that really brings you into these womens lives. It shows so many sides of being a woman from some very different walks of life.
Date published: 2011-04-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A good recommendation A friend recommended this book and even though I'm often hesitant to read books that portray India in a way that is ripe with cliches, I indulged. And I was thoroughly surprised. Gowda's prose often felt like poetry. Her delicate approach to revealing the complex and often interwined issues of India's culture was assertive, yet compassionate. I judge a book by the number and types of emotions it evokes. I find the best produce an array vs. a concentration of a few. The Secret Daughter produced feelings of hope, anger, despair and ultimately love. For these reasons - 4 stars.
Date published: 2011-04-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Well, It Was Great Idea I liked it. Actually I finished it and was a bit annoyed, with all the attention it was getting I thought it would be great. It was good but I’ve read better, both in writing and in storyline. I did like all the chapters in India though, I felt I learnt something and the food sounds good, it was the only part where I actually liked the characters because there was some development. One of my friends summed it up quite nicely. It was a great idea, it just wasn’t written as well as it could have been.
Date published: 2011-03-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Easy read I really enjoyed this book. It was an easy read and offered a window into the Indian culture. Would definitely recommend it.
Date published: 2011-03-27
Rated 1 out of 5 by from beyond boring this book is a movie of the week - it's a 1979 mini-series. it was painfully predictable to read and a complete waste of time. it required no imagination to write - the author simply followed a very boring recipe.
Date published: 2011-03-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Another Must Read Such a stunning story, very difficult to understand diversity of the races but this story lays it all out there.
Date published: 2011-03-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Secret Is Out ! I have just recently finished this novel the Secret Daughter. It was quite an 'easy' read and quick for me to get through. The story itself though was beautiful. I think it's a novel that will touch the hearts of women everywhere in one way or another. It delves into deep issues that affect woman all over the world all over single gift of being able to reproduce and provide life to this world. I think if you want to read a book that touches on compelling and heart-wrenching stories, this is a beautiful book. It's not too long, easy to understand and get through and the author has written a beautiful narrative from various points of view and intertwined them wonderfully. I think any woman can relate to this novel and it's perfect for an afternoon to get in touch with your motherly side. It's tragic and triumphant all in one.
Date published: 2011-02-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Compelling story For those of you who have seen "Slum Dog Millionaire", you will remember the scenes of India and the children who live in this slum and the life they had to lead in order to survive. This is sort of like that but from a mother's perspective. It doesn't go into much detail what slum life is like but it shows you what it is like to live in poor India and the sacrifices you have to make as a parents in order to provide for your young. As a mother, while I was reading the book, I came to really appreciate the life I have now. This is a heart tugging book that will make you cry and smile.
Date published: 2011-02-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Captivating Read! I really enjoyed this book. It gave the reader opportunity to experience the story from the eyes of the main characters. She esstentially wrote the story of 6 individuals. I passed this book along to family members and friends and they have all enjoyed it!
Date published: 2011-02-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Meh This book has a great plot, but the characters are lacking. This made the book less appealing to return to after taking a 'reading break'. Nonetheless, its a good read but not exciting.
Date published: 2011-02-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautifully written I picked up this book because of the positive reviews and awards received, and it did not disappoint. In fact, I could not put the book down! Gowda beautifully intertwines the stories of motherhood, culture, loss, love and identity into this wonderful story set in India and America. The story is rich in depth and culture, narrated masterfully. You can really feel both the despair and hope that these characters face; no doubt a reflection of the culture amidst struggling mothers in the developing country of India. Thoroughly enjoyed this book and I definitely recommend it!
Date published: 2011-01-31
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Snore This book was boring. The story is uninteresting, the characters vapid, the writing plain. I found the mother's character in particular to be disappointing - she is irrational and illogical to the point where it became annoying and tiresome to read her inner monologues.
Date published: 2011-01-26
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Dismal I was expecting a lot more from the story line but the plot was not enough to carry this novel. The writing is dismal and plain, and the characters and their interactions are shallow. I barely finished this book.
Date published: 2011-01-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A decent effort from a first-time author I enjoyed this book very much. It was heart-wrenching on so many levels. I couldn't imagine either giving away a baby and living your whole life wondering what has happened to him or her; similarly, I can't imagine the desire to have a child and having to deal with the heartbreak of not being able to conceive, so I felt for both of the main characters in this book. I felt the child's frustration too of being pulled in different directions of 2 different cultures. The writing style wasn't the greatest, but it was a decent effort for a first-time author to come up with the concepts for these stories and then weave them together in the way that she has. I enjoyed the cultural aspect of the family's trips to India at different stages in their lives.
Date published: 2011-01-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from excellent read Awesome book. Great story of two cultures separated by miles but connected by a child. Gives you some taste of Indian culture and connects you to all the characters. At the end I liked all the characters-they weren't right or wrong-just individuals making difficult decisions. The glossier at the back explaining Indian terms was very helpful.
Date published: 2011-01-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fabulous! What a great read! I was a little sceptical at first when a read a synopsis about this book, but once I started it, I couldn't put it down! The two stories are equally engaging, the characters are all fascinating in their own way and the book is simply beautifully written. Great read for anyone!
Date published: 2011-01-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Heart-wrenching yet so Fantastic. This is another book that I truly enjoyed reading. I could not put this book down. I found myself involved in the story-line, almost like I was right in the middle of the story. I cried often but I also laughed in many parts. It was interesting to read that even after adoption and the love you have for a child how a parent can still think that you do not have a strong connection in some points. In many adoption stories that I have read about, they never truly get into this much detail about loss, suffering, connection and of course love. It was interesting to read the different points of view of everyone in the story and I believe in many cases, families do go through these very feelings. I recently bought this book for a christmas gift but I would buy it for someone on any occasion.
Date published: 2011-01-04
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not good enough to finish I purchased this book because of the subject and because it was a "Heather's Pick" novel. Unfortunately I couldn't read more than a few chapters because of the poor writing. I'm a little puzzled why so many readers including Heather gave it a good review.
Date published: 2011-01-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A truly wonderful read! A great novel written by a very talented author. I got it for Christmas and finished it within 2 days - I couldn't put it down.
Date published: 2010-12-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Read Have read quite a few books recently told from multiple perspectives and initially wasnt sure if I would enjoy with this book but it proved me wrong. Enjoyed the characters and how it revolved around the daughter. Thought that Gowda ended the story perfectly. In my opinion could not have been better. Found a few parts challenging to read, slower moving but overall really enjoyed. 3.5.
Date published: 2010-12-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful I loved this book. I couldn't stop reading it. You learn a lot about the Indian Culture and it's country as well. It was a beautiful story.
Date published: 2010-12-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from It was alright. There were a lot of Indian words that needed to be translated from the back of the book. I learned a lot about Indian culture, but other than that, I didn't like anything else. The story was sad. I didn't quite like the ending. Oh well.
Date published: 2010-12-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Stayed up all night to finish it This book is wonderfully written from the emotions of a biological mother, an adoptive mother, and a young girl trying to find her way and herself in the world. It also gives a very in depth look into India and its rich culture. I gladly gave up sleep to finish this book in one sitting. It grips you instantly and does not let go until the end.
Date published: 2010-12-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good read! I really liked the way the author showed the differences and the similarities in the lives of both mothers. The sensitive subject of adoption from the views of 3 women was approached with great sensitivity. I really enjoyed this book.
Date published: 2010-11-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Women Power I couldn't put this book that, of course I was on a long train trip when I started reading this but it grabbed me, turned me inside out and spit me out with smile on my face. This is story of women: grandmother, mothers and a daughter. It shows strenght of women in all its glory under dire circumstances and their ability to persevere. At the end of the day it is story of bond that exist and is formed among special women.
Date published: 2010-11-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Read I was really taken by this book. It touched on many different themes, family, longing to know who you are, learning to understand yourself and learning about culture; yours and others you love. I enjoyed how the author had many voices in the book and we got to see situations from different perspectives. Many of the relationships were both beautiful and complicated and the author allowed each to evolve in what felt like a natural way. There is a chapter in the book where at the end the character Somer reflects on not really feeling accomplished at any of her jobs of mother, worker etc. It was so well written I felt like it was speaking to me and for me. Many novels that I have read on India have really depressed me and even though some of the situations in the book are depressing (like when Kavita had her first born girl taken from her and killed and when she struggled for those days to ensure her second daughter was brought to the orphanage) I still felt that the portrayal was authentic yet not written in a way that made me think there could be no hope or redemption. It was really interesting to read Jasu's (Kavita's husband) account of how he felt about giving his new born daughter to his cousin to kill. How his nightmares almost consumed him and how he and Kavita through love and compassion and understanding were able to still find love and forgiveness when most might not. It was really interesting for me to learn about traditions in the Indian culture and understand (because Asha was learning herself) what they meant and why they do certain things. I love how the author took a situation like the slums and found a way through Asha's character to find some glimmer of hope and inspiration of a situation that I find so despairing. We often think of India as simply oppressive of women but the author gives you the thought that in wealthier families it might not be so oppressive just because you can allow for more freedom and education with money in that country (sad that you have to have money though eh?). Anyway it is worth the read.
Date published: 2010-11-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from LOVED this book! This book was absolutely beautiful. It was an investigation of culture, emotions and womanhood. How to be an individual and know yourself, while trying to play your other roles of mother, daughter, professional, etc. It was a very beautifully written novel, hard to stomach at some points for its reality in describing the conditions for women in rural India, but captivating. I could not put it down, and I started and finished the book in tears. Compelling, beautiful and extremely well-written.
Date published: 2010-11-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Liked it --- didn't love it. I enjoyed reading this book, but not quite as much as I expected. But it was an opportunity to learn a lot about various aspects of Indian culture. somehow the daughter just wasn't a very believable character. I wanted to like the book more than I did,
Date published: 2010-11-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent It's a great story with a lot of information about the culture of India as compared to Canada. The three main women in this book have vastly different perspectives about Indian culture. They all come away with one lesson "Mother India does not love all her children equally." This is a truly outstanding book filled with the beauty of life, family and culture that will stay in the hearts and memories of all the readers including myself.
Date published: 2010-11-10
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointed Was really looking forward to reading this book. The storyline and subject matter is very interesting and moving and is what made me want to read the book. Unfortunately, I found the writing was lacking in substance. The author could have developed so much more with the characters and their relationships. There was so much potential to do so! I did not feel connected to any of them though and felt I was watching events fold from a distance. I never did finish the book.
Date published: 2010-11-08
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointing initially i was really excited to read this book. for me the plot had really interesting potential and i believe that it is a story worth telling. however, i felt that the author was unable to carry the heaviness of the topic through her writing. it wasn't poetic or deep enough and i felt a disconnect with the characters. everything was revealed, and as the story was unfolding it became predictable. instead of being a powerful, thought provoking book i found it to be a quick read and very ordinary.
Date published: 2010-10-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent read! I picked this book up several times trying to decide if I should read it or not....and am so glad I decided to read it! It is a wonderful can't put it down read! The author does an amazing job of exploring the complexities of each of the characters, their relationships and the challenges families encounter! Definitely a must read book!
Date published: 2010-09-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Looking for a page turner? If you are looking for a great read to spend the next few days and nights with- look for "Secret Daughter" by Shilpi Somaya Gowda. You won't be able to put it down. Excellent story-telling. A mother in a poor village in India gives birth to a girl and since baby girls are a burden in poor families they are often "disposed of" In fact, that is exactly what happened to the mother's last baby, also a girl. The mother goes to great lengths to ensure the baby makes it safe and sound to an orphanage and spends the rest of her life worrying about, missing, and keeping an eye out for this girl. Her "secret daughter". The story jumps between this and a couple in California who are unable to have children naturally so they decide to adopt and they end up adopting this baby girl from India. As the baby grows up, she is the common thread that links both of these stories. This well-written novel touches on the personal themes of family and motherhood, grief, destiny, and love from two different perspectives- maybe 3, maybe 4- the birth parents, the adoptive parents, the adoptive fathers family back in India, and the adopted child herself. What makes this novel so enjoyable is the picture that it paints in your mind whether you are in California or India. She transports the reader and if keeps you interested in the Indian culture and traditions. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2010-09-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Couldn't Put it Down This book was a page turner...one of those books that you just ignore everyone in the family so you can sit and read it (make your own dinner kids! lol). Moving story that captured me from the first page...I recommend this book to everyone, in fact I've lent it out already and have a list of people waiting.
Date published: 2010-09-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome read I loved this book. Well written. Well developed characters. It was a book I couldn't put down and a book I hated to see end.
Date published: 2010-09-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A great read Secret Daughter is great read from the start. It provides wonderful insight into family relationships and cultural traditions. Reading the descriptions of life in India is heartwrenching but true and takes me back to the sights, sounds and smells that I experienced on my trip there.
Date published: 2010-09-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A new favorite! Amazing story of family, loss and discovery. After spending some time in India the author had me captured and taken back to the vivid sights, sounds and smells of India.
Date published: 2010-09-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful I really enjoyed this book. It's an easy read and definitely a page turner.
Date published: 2010-09-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome!!!! I was not able to stop reading this book ...Love it
Date published: 2010-09-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lovely Beautiful book about reality, life and family. I would have preferred a different ending but I guess that may not have been realistic!!
Date published: 2010-08-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read! Insightful and thought provoking. Lovely story centered around women, mainly mothers.
Date published: 2010-08-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic read! What a touching story. A must read for every mother.
Date published: 2010-08-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful! I could not put this book down. The first 10 pages had me hooked and crying. If you love books about other cultures, this is a book for you. If you are a mother or dream of being one, this is a book for you. I could not wait to see what the ending would bring. I LOVED IT!
Date published: 2010-08-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very interesting, highly recommended This story not only gave you an idea of the Indian culture but also of the emotions that everyone goes through in adoption, marriage, adjusting to a new country and generally life. It was a great read and I would highly recommend it. Marie Suzanne Dillon, author of "Two Weeks in Vieques"
Date published: 2010-08-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it!! I would highly recommend this book, especially to anyone who is a mother. I loved it!
Date published: 2010-08-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from AWESOME REAS!! I am so sad to think I am almost finished this book....it's only been about 4 days and I am mourning the last page I'll read already. Loved this book!! It is about a female Indian baby adopted by an American couple that have had years of infertility, and how all people involved are affected by this adoption, the birth family, the adoptive family and "the secret daughter". Loved this book!!
Date published: 2010-08-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The kind of story you can't put down During the hazy, lazy days of summer, nothing is better than settling into a great read – the kind of story you can’t put down. "Secret Daughter" by Canadian born Shilpi Somaya Gowda is just such a story. On the evening of the monsoons, in a remote Indian village, a heartbroken Kavita is forced to give away the baby she has long dreamed of having. After all, the baby is a girl and the poor in India simply can’t afford that luxury. Halfway around the world, in the enclave of Palo Alto – home of Stanford University – American-born Somer and her Indian husband Krishnan learn that they are unable to conceive. Eventually, their passion to have a child leads them to an orphanage in Mumbai and to the baby that Kavita has left behind. Interweaving the stories of Kavita and 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 eyes of two families – one Indian, one American – and the child that indelibly connects them all. Gowda’s story unfolds in rich colour as she transports the reader seamlessly between the tree lined suburb of Palo Alto and the teeming streets of Mumbai - complete with the smells, the unthinkable poverty, and the richness of cultural traditions that span the centuries. This is a book to read and savour and then pass on to everyone you know.
Date published: 2010-08-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful book It takes place in India and North America. A story about a mother who has to give up her child because she is a girl.
Date published: 2010-08-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good summer read This book gives you some insight into India's culture when girls were not valued as highly as boys. It is a quick read.
Date published: 2010-07-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely wonderful I would like to place this book at the top of my list. She has a way of making you really connect and care for the characters in the book. I am not one for re-reading books, but i would definitely pick this one up again.
Date published: 2010-07-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely great I read this book non-stop cover to cover, I simply could not put it down...The longing of the biological mother was so strong, it was almost palpable...Having recently lost my mother, I feel absolutely grateful to have had her in my life for so many years...it also evokes another question...Who are your real parents, the ones who give you birth or the ones who raise and love you. I would recommend this book to anyone who has been adopted and question the motives of their biological parents. Either way, it cannot be an easy decision.
Date published: 2010-07-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful I am in the middle of this book and am very touched by the characters. It is one of the best books I have read this year. A must read.
Date published: 2010-07-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic Read The SECRET DAUGHTER is an awesome story. The comparison of the North American and Indian culture was eye opening! The enduring love of a mother for her child is well done. Certainly a difficult book to put down.
Date published: 2010-07-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A great casual read Secret Daughter by Shilpi Gowda is, in short, a novel about the lives of two women who are connected through the adoption of a baby girl. I finished reading this novel in 8 hours and needless to say it was very addicting. Shilpi writes in a very simplistic manner that can be easily absorbed and understood, which made this very easy to read. What an empowering womanly story! I loved that it was in the perspective of these two totally different woman who are connected by one child. It was heart wrenching to see the story end and I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys a great read. My only complaint was at times I was confused about the perspective of the story that was being told and who was telling it but maybe that's just me. Nevertheless, it was a pleasure to sit down and read this book without having to get lost in frivolous details and complicated story lines. Simple, easy and great.
Date published: 2010-07-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautifully told story I could have eaten up every word, but tried so hard to make the book last. I hated to see the story end. Rare for me, to have a book of characters so real in my mind, and left wanting to read it again.
Date published: 2010-06-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Secret Daughter I was captivated from the first page and cried my eyes out near the end. I was sad to get to the last page but gave a great sigh of pleasure when I got to the end. The author told such a beautiful story about two worlds colliding. I would definitely recommend this book and have already passed it on to a friend. Buy it!
Date published: 2010-06-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Compelling Read!!! A moving and thought-provoking novel. This story takes place in a remote Indian village. On the eve of the monsoons, Kavita gives birth to a baby girl who is not wanted by her husband, Jasu. He takes the baby, disappears for a couple of hours and returns without her. Kavita does not know what he has done. A couple of years later, Kavita again gives birth to a daughter whom she decides this time her husband will not take from her. She secretly makes plans with her sister Rupa to walk miles and miles to another village to leave her baby daughter at an orphanage with the hope she will be adopted and have a good life. The baby girl has the most beautiful "gold" coloured eyes, just like Kavita. A couple of years later, Kavita again gives birth but this time to a boy Vijay whom her husband Jasu adores but he turns out to be a huge disappointment. In America, Somer and Krishnan, both doctors can't seem to conceive. After a few brutually upsetting miscarriages, they decide to adopt a baby from Krishnan's home country of India. Somer is American but the waiting lists here are much too long. They travel half-way around the world to pick up their new baby daughter, the one with the most beautiful "gold" coloured eyes! The novel interweaves the stories of Kavita, Somer, and the child that binds both of their destinies. Each chapter flips between Kavita and Somer which I love. The characters are beautifully developed, the story well-written and you won't want this one to end. I'm keeping this in my permanent collection along with Rohinton Mistry's "A Fine Balance". I would love to see Ms. Gowda write a sequel to this!!!! I need to know how Asha/Usha fares in the rest of her life and all of Krishnan's relatives and especially Kavita, Jasu and Vijay.
Date published: 2010-06-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fabulous read! This book had me hooked from the start. I couldn't put it down. Heartbreaking tale told from 6 perspectives. A fantastic novel for a new author. I can't wait to read something else from her.
Date published: 2010-06-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from beautiful novel Absolutely beautifully written novel, heart wrenching story of 2 women, the one who was forced to give her daughter up for adoption at birth in India, and the mother who raises this little girl halfway around the world in America. I love how the stories of the 2 women, and later the daugher, are mixed throughout the novel. Touches on many issues, especially women's rights.
Date published: 2010-06-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Beautiful! This is a wonderfully written and beautifully imagined tale of mothers and daughters. It follows the life of three women: one who gave up her daughter to have a better life, one who could not have children of her own and took in an orphan from India, and the child that the two of them share. None of these women meet in the book, but the book follows their three stories and we can see how much of an impact each has on the other despite that fact. We are given a colorful glimpse into the life of city bred and rural India, the good and the bad. You'll be shocked and fascinated in turns by this book. It's a heart wrenching story, but a wonderful must read.
Date published: 2010-05-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautifully Written, Thought Provoking “Secret Daughter” is a story of two families from two continents and cultures. Shilpi Somaya Gowda has touched many issues, such as motherhood, adoption, marriage, parenting and cultural identity without making judgment. The story, characters and issues raised are brought to life and stay with you for a long time. It’s perfect pick for book club discussion.
Date published: 2010-04-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A must read! This is one of the most emotional, heart wrenching and realistic fictional stories that is distinctive in its writing style and approach to a little talked about topic in indian culture! An amazing first novel ...... we should only be so lucky to see more from this fabulous young talent. This is definately a Deepa Mehta movie in the making ..... in the lines of her triology Water Fire Earth! Looking forward to it!
Date published: 2010-03-08

– More About This Product –

Secret Daughter

by Shilpi Gowda

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 352 pages, 9.13 × 6.13 × 0.93 in

Published: March 1, 2010

Publisher: HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERS

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0061974307

ISBN - 13: 9780061974304

From the Publisher

In a tiny hut in rural India, Kavita gives birth to Asha. Unable to afford the ''luxury'' of raising a daughter, her husband forces Kavita to give the baby up--a decision that will haunt them both for the rest of their lives.

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 her husband Krishnan shows her a photo of baby Asha sent to him from a Mumbai orphanage, she falls instantly in love. As she waited for adoption to be finalized, she knew her life would change. But she was convinced that the love she already felt would overcome all obstacles.

In a braided narrative that unites the stories of Kavita, Somer and Asha, SECRET DAUGHTER, the debut novel by Shilpi Somaya Gowda, explores the emotional terrain of motherhood, loss and belonging. As the story moves between the two families, one struggling to eke out an existence in Mumbai, the other grappling with the challenge of raising a brownskinned child from another culture, Gowda poignantly parses issues of culture, identity and familial loyalty

About the Author

Shilpi Somaya Gowda was born and raised in Toronto to parents who migrated there from Mumbai. She holds an MBA from Stanford University and a BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 1991, she spent a summer as a volunteer in an Indian orphanage. She has lived in New York, North Carolina, and Texas, and currently makes her home in California with her husband and children.

Item not added

This item is not available to order at this time.

See used copies from 00.00
  • My Gift List
  • My Wish List
  • Shopping Cart