By the award-winning author of East of the Sun, an epic love story moving from England to India, about the forbidden love between a young Indian doctor and an English midwife.
Oxfordshire, 1947. Kit Smallwood, hiding a painful secret and exhausted from nursing soldiers during the Second World War, escapes to Wickam Farm where her friend is setting up a charity sending midwives to the Moonstone Home in South India.
Then Kit meets Anto, an Indian doctor finishing his medical training at Oxford. But Kit’s light skinned mother is in fact Anglo-Indian with secrets of her own, and Anto is everything she does not want for her daughter.
Despite the threat of estrangement, Kit is excited for the future, hungry for adventure, and deeply in love. She and Anto secretly marry and set off for South India—where Kit plans to run the maternity hospital she’s helped from afar.
But Kit’s life in India does not turn out as she imagined. Anto’s large, traditional family wanted him to marry an Indian bride and find it hard to accept Kit. Their relationship under immense strain, Kit’s job is also fraught with tension as they both face a newly independent India, where riots have left millions dead and there is deep-rooted suspicion of the English. In a rapidly changing world, Kit’s naiveté is to land her in a frightening and dangerous situation...
Based on true accounts of European midwives in India, Monsoon Summer is a powerful story of secrets, the nature of home, the comforts and frustrations of family, and how far we’ll go to be with those we love.
If someone would ask me about a book that really surprised me would this one be one my mind. Monsoon Summer was a book that I eagerly hoped to get a chance to read (thanks to the lovely cover and the intriguing blurb), but it was a book that when I started to read it struggled very hard with at first. I even thought about giving up on it. Why? I had some real problem with the main character Kit. I found her very immature for a woman of 28, and she often made me annoyed with her "dark" secret and trouble of adjusting to a life in India. I saw her as a woman who just didn't understand the culture in India and who made a rash decision to marry an Indian man who she hardly knew. I honestly didn't see how this marriage would work since it seemed that they didn't discuss important things before they got married like if or when they should have children. Work was especially a sensitive question since being a midwife is not a good thing in India. And, starting a new life in India trying to hide that from Anto's family felt like a very bad idea.
However, I was enthralled with the life in India after the Independence, how midwives were treated, and the culture difference between the Indians and the English. And, as the story progressed did I start to find more and more sympathy for Kit, and I even started to care and worry about her. One can say that she grew and matured through the book, and I came to more and more understand her. I also found myself liking her mother-in-law more and more, and yes even Kit's mother whose past had made her a very hard and untrusting woman.
This is a book that I'm glad that I stuck to. That I did not give up on it, despite my early doubts. Monsoon Summer turned out to be a great book. I felt that the book gave me an insight into India after Independence, the struggle for women, like those that worked as a midwife, but also the struggle for those that got a high education and having to combine work with old traditions. I found the book to be quite good and interesting and I felt richer after reading it.