Archive for November, 2011

An Atlas of Impossible Longing

Monday, November 7th, 2011

By Anuradha Roy

The Short Take:

This beautifully written novel follows the lives of several people in a single Indian family. All are haunted by feelings of isolation and longing. My only complaint is that I wanted more. I loved the characters so much, I hated when the story moved on to someone else.


The key characters of Roy’s central dysfunctional family are all achingly beautiful in some way. Their feelings of “otherness” latch onto your heart and do not let go. Even when one character’s actions seriously harm another, you might not forgive, but you do understand.

Roy does a wonderful job of bringing to life the India of the 20th century — it’s changing political structure as well as its heat, scents, and sights. She presents social structures like caste and the unquestioned dominance of men in a non-judgmental way — it’s simple the way things were.

The result is a novel that fulfills its promise and rewards the reader. Smoothly told with language that is outright luscious at times, it carries you to another time and place and envelopes you with the passions and impossible longing of its people.

A Little Plot:

A man, solitary by nature, moves his family to a small community in India to start a cosmetics business. His lonely wife begins to lose her sanity. One son disappears for years after a tragic loss. Their Anglo neighbor meets with tragedy. And, an orphan boy and spoiled granddaughter form a bond that can not be broken by time or distance.

Over three generations, the residents of one house — along with the widowed woman across the street — impact each other’s lives in unexpected ways, creating impossible longing. Enchanting.

To find out more about Roy and her books, click here.


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November 2011