Meera Syal’s thoughtful novel The House of Hidden Mothers portrays the coming together of Indian and Western Culture and the integration of family.
Telling the story of an Indian woman, Shyama who in her attempts to provide her and her boyfriend Toby a baby heads to India to explore surrogacy. The trip brings them to meet Mala, an Indian woman from a very different background than that of Shyama creating an interesting juxtaposition and portrayal of the Indian culture and caste system.
Whilst the story revolves primarily around Shyama and Toby’s quest to start a family together, there are also sub- plots that follow other character’s including; Mala, Shyama’s daughter Tara and Shyama’s parents Sita and Prem.
The author covers some extremely important topics in this novel including; the ethics or surrogacy, Indian culture, relationships and family. These serious topics are balanced perfectly with aspects of humour and the warmth of family life. The descriptions, in particular of India paint truly vivid and exotic imagery.
“Sense memories hijacked her at odd moments: the smell of the rath-ki-rani garlands outside the roadside temples; the cool citric fizz of the nimbo pani she had yearned to drink on her arrival…”
A beautiful, emotive and thought provoking novel that submerges you into some of India’s hidden secrets.