Family Mystery Books

The call of one’s roots: Review of Prema Srinivasan’s ‘And Finally, A Blessing!’

A daughter makes it her life’s mission to make her mother return to their beloved home in India. There’s a family secret to unravel and a horrible wrong to set right in the process: the 25-year-old protagonist takes it all upon herself.

Radhika, born and brought up in the U.K., hasn’t had much of an exposure to her mother’s hometown of Madras apart from the occasional visits as a child. But the pull of her roots is strong and she soon finds herself chatting up old relatives and long-forgotten acquaintances from Thiruverkadu to Kumbakonam, to find out about an old “curse” that might have caused a couple of untimely deaths in the family. Is the curse the reason behind her mother’s self-imposed exile in a foreign land?

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As Radhika’s investigation progresses, the reader is drawn into a family mystery. However, one cannot help feeling that the protagonist is driven more by her heightened sense of morality than by any real or perceived danger. Even as those around her seem to be unaffected by any foreboding, Radhika firmly believes it is her life’s purpose to safeguard future generations from the ancient curse.

When she succeeds in her mission, we breathe a sigh of relief. It’s as if the author, Prema Srinivasan, is aware of the obsessive nature of her protagonist’s pursuit. “Don’t know what all this fuss is about,” remarks a character sagely at the end, and we agree. At the same time, we do want to indulge Radhika, who is unwavering in her quest.

The story moves smoothly through the decades, starting from the pre-Independence years and coming right up to the early 2000s. Woven in are glimpses of life in Tamil Nadu as seen in Radhika’s wealthy ancestral homestead in the hinterlands or in the modern Madras of Conjeevarams and the December music season. The portrait of Radhika’s childhood in the England of the 1950s and 60s is also interesting, untouched by any spectre of tragedy, save for the family’s self-imposed exile.

Everything comes together nicely at the end, and the book’s title could not have been more apt.

And Finally, A Blessing!; Prema Srinivasan; Authors Upfront; ₹295

julie.m.v@thehindu.co.in

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Printable version | Apr 14, 2021 6:00:49 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/books/the-call-of-ones-roots-review-of-prema-srinivasans-and-finally-a-blessing/article33939186.ece

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