Independence by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Independence by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Independence by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni



Here is a river… Here is a village… Here is a grand old mansion… Here is the country that contains them all… India. August, 1946. Everything is about to change.

Priya, Jamini and Deepa, Dr Nabakumar Ganguly’s daughters, live in Ranipur, Bengal, safe from the rising turbulence in the country. When their father is killed on Direct Action Day, their world turns upside-down.

Priya, the youngest, intelligent and idealistic, is determined to follow in her father’s footsteps and become a doctor, no matter how difficult. She is fortunate to have the support of zamindar Somnath Chowdhury, her father’s best friend. Jamini, devout, dutiful and talented, helps her mother stitch kanthas to make ends meet. Hungering for affection even as she is resentful of her sisters, she nurses a secret desire. Beautiful Deepa, the eldest, all set to marry well, falls in love with Raza, Youth Leader at the Muslim League, and must face the consequences.

When India is partitioned, the sisters find themselves separated from one another, afraid of what will happen to not only themselves, but also each other. It is only then that they understand what it means to be independent, and the price one has to pay for it.

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s powerful new novel is a moving story of loyalty and love, nationhood and sisterhood, set against India’s independence movement, at once exhilarating and devastating.

My Review:

“Can you slice up a country as if it were a cake?”

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni—an author whose only two books I have read, and I am absolutely in love with. In love with her writing style, in love with her storytelling, and in love with her portrayal of women. Her ability to portray Indian women so beautifully and gracefully is unmatched.

In “Independence”, set against the tumultuous backdrop of India’s struggle for independence and the painful partition of Bengal, we are introduced to three remarkable sisters: Priya, Jamini, and Deepa.

These three sisters must learn to navigate life’s challenges not only for themselves but also for their beloved.

The narrative takes you on a emotional rollercoaster, where you feel happy for their achievements and secret romances, while on the other hand, your heart rips because of the obstacles they confront, the loved ones they lose, and the sacrifices they make in the shadow of their nation’s turmoil—war, division, and communal strife. Although not directly involved, they pay the price.

From the moment I delved into the book, the pages turned effortlessly, and before I knew it, I was already a third of the way through. The prose flows as smoothly as butter on a hot pan, never once losing my interest.

Not often does an author craft deeply engaging storylines for all protagonists, yet Chitra accomplishes just that. With three central characters, each story is equally compelling. I found myself rooting for all three, even when aware that one’s victory might entail another’s loss.

As the three women fight for a career, fight for their love, fight against their family, fight for their family’s dignity, and fight with each other, we see their bond blossom and grow stronger through the tests of time.

The author adeptly brings to light the years leading up to Indian Independence and the years after it, sprinkling in political insights without overwhelming the narrative. The author incorporates speeches of some freedom fighters time and again throughout the story, but what stands out the most is her portrayal of Sarojini Naidu.

One critique I have pertains to the book’s stylistic choices. For instance, there’s an absence of commas in lists of items, and dialogues lack quotation marks. While this stylistic approach remains puzzling even after completing the book, it doesn’t disrupt the reading experience. I was able to breeze through the story without hindrance.

If you’re seeking a compelling read for Independence Day, look no further—this book fits the bill perfectly.

Happy Reading!!