Belonging by Umi Sinha

This is a dream of a book. Beautifully written and movingly told.

Friday, 25th September 2015, 1:58 pm
Updated Wednesday, 14th December 2016, 1:53 pm

This is a dream of a book. Beautifully written and movingly told. It deals with the big themes of life; memory, secrets, family, and homeland, with an intimate eye for detail.

From the dark days of the British Raj, to the aftermath of the First World War, it tells the tale of three generations and their struggles. Of course, generally anything set in India, no matter in what period, usually captivates me.

It's all so exotic, so different, so, well, so foreign. I love reading about the heat, the markets, the customs, the different rules of behaviour. It strikes me that we are all familiar with them from watching films and reading books, and there is nothing wrong with that - unless the films and books aren't the real deal.

This one is. You can just tell. The book is a combination of diaries and letters that give a huge insight into all of the people and the times.

Secrets and a shocking incident pass through the hands of generations only to be unearthed many years later. If I tell you that the scandalous event involves a tablecloth, you would be none the wiser, but you would be considerably poorer for not knowing.

I will be in conversation with Umi as part of Shoreham Wordfest on Saturday, October 10, Sussex Yacht Club at 10am, so come and meet the author and we will talk of India, tablecloths, memories, and much much more. Later that day at 4pm, I'll also be in conversation with the wonderful Julie Burchill. Come and say hello.