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The Story Hour

The Story Hour - Thrity Umrigar I received this book from the firstreads program.

This story is mainly a web of relationships. Two very different marriages and the friendship between the two women (Maggie and Lakshmi) who start as psychologist-patient. These relationships are the stars of the show, and Umrigar does a good job developing them, nurturing them, allowing them to change with the individuals involved. This made the book truly excellent and wonderful to read.

The chapters alternate between Lakshmi's first-person narration and a third-person narration of Maggie's story. Lakshmi is an Indian immigrant with an 8th grade education, and Umrigar chose to identify her voice by very bad grammar. So every other chapter is actually pretty hard to read. I did get used to it with time, and it was easier at the end than at the beginning, but it felt a little over-the-top. But I can't argue on the basis of authenticity... I don't know anyone with Lakshmi's background to compare her to. So I guess I'll just say that she has a well-defined voice and a truly wonderful character, but her chapters slowed my reading down.

Lakshmi is the story-teller in the book, so I felt that in the end, this was her story. And indeed, that is the implication in the book at end (I don't think that counts as a spoiler). For her six years in America, there has been noone to listen to her stories, but that changes when Maggie comes into her life. Most of Lakshmi's stories center on her upbringing and her family back in India, so the contrast between her new life in America and her old one in India is ever-present and striking. The combination makes for a beautiful book.