- first published by Review 2002
- ISBN 9-780755-311163
- 218 pages
- source: lent to me by a friend
Sitting in her grandmother Dhanna's kitchen, surrounded by the aromas of mint and the smoke of a hookah, warmed by the kangri tucked beneath her thighs, young Sudha Koul listened to tales of She Who Fears Nothing: The Tiger Lady, stories Sudha would repeat to her own daughters in time, though in a kitchen many thousands of miles away from her beloved Kashmir. This is a magical memoir of a land now consumed by political and religious turmoil, a richly detailed story of a girl's passage into maturity, marriage, and motherhood in the midst of an exquisite and fragile world that will never be entirely the same.
Warning to followers of my blog: first of all, this is NOT crime fiction.
I visited Kashmir in 1975, stayed in a house boat on Lake Dal, bought some lacquerware in Srinigar which I still have, visited the Mughal Gardens, and thought the place was fabulous.
But simmering under the surface were the forces that divided India during the Partition in 1947, that would eventually break Kashmir apart.
Sudha Koul tells the story of four generations of women in her family: her grandmother, her mother, herself and her daughters. Born into the Brahmin class which lay atop the social order of Kashmir, Sudha Koul was raised in a priveleged lifestyle, that contained within it the destruction of the political and social order of Kashmir. This is the story of Paradise Lost.
It is impressively told and very readable.
My rating: 4.3