Monday, October 20, 2014

Book Review: The Holder of the World by Bharati Mukherjee

Published: August 9th, 1994
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Read from October 7th to 19th, 2014
Synopsis from Goodreads:
"An amazing literary feat and a masterpiece of storytelling. Once again, Bharati Mukherjee prove
she is one of our foremost writers, with the literary muscles to weave both the future and the past into a tale that is singularly intelligent and provocative."
This is the remarkable story of Hannah Easton, a unique woman born in the American colonies in 1670, "a person undreamed of in Puritan society." Inquisitive, vital and awake to her own possibilities, Hannah travels to Mughal, India, with her husband, and English trader. There, she sets her own course, "translating" herself into the Salem Bibi, the white lover of a Hindu raja.
It is also the story of Beigh Masters, born in New England in the mid-twentieth century, an "asset hunter" who stumbles on the scattered record of her distant relative's life while tracking a legendary diamond. As Beigh pieces together details of Hannah's journeys, she finds herself drawn into the most intimate and spellbinding fabric of that remote life, confirming her belief that with "sufficient passion and intelligence, we can decontrsuct the barriers of time and geography...."


We read this book for my American literature class, and I really enjoyed it. It's such a unique story. I've never read anything quite like it before. The contrast between all of the many different cultures that are present in the book and interact with each other was so interesting and something I've never encountered before. Hannah's story and the wide variety of people she meets was just so unexpected and fun to read about.

Beigh's story seemed to take the backseat to Hannah's for the most part, but I did enjoy that aspect of the novel together. I loved the way the two women's stories were weaved together and how Hannah's story affected Beigh. Hannah's story could have been told without Beigh, but I feel like Beigh's story managed to add something special to the story.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who's interested in historical fiction, especially if you're interested in any of the many cultures present in the book.

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