Pop Culture Princess

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Thrity Umrigar makes you appreciate The World We Found

It's been too many years since Armaiti has seen her three best girlfriends,Kavita,Laleh and Nishta,when the four of them were student activists during their college days in Bombay of the late 1970s. After her move to the U.S.,loosing touch with the girls became all too easy.

Getting the old gang back together is an idea that all of them placed on the back burner,particularly since their old revolutionary spirit has died down since then. Armaiti decides to reunite them but insists that,instead of her returning to India, the three of them visit her in America.

This request is mainly due to her health;Armaiti is slowly dying from an inoperable brain tumor and wants to have one last wonderful time with her old companions. Despite their drifting apart from one another,her friends are eager to share what time they can with Armaiti as soon as they can:

However,the girls have more to deal with than sorrow over the impending loss of their dearest friend and joy over seeing her again. Kavita's love for Armaiti is more than platonic and this situation causes her to consider being more open about her true romantic nature.

Nishta is trapped in an oppressive marriage with her college sweetheart,a man who deals with the prejudice that his religion receives from society by embracing the most extreme elements of it. Her life is so closely monitored that even thinking about seeing Armaiti seems like an impossible dream.

Laleh also married her college boyfriend,Adish,but their union is a far happier one even with the regrets about giving up on their former ideals and settling into a contented middle class life. As memories both good and bad surface for each of them,their reconnection becomes vital and plans of action must be made for this one last chance to be together:

Thrity Umigar's fourth novel,The World We Found, is a rich,engaging portrait of former friendships and former times that are defined by where these experiences took everyone involved for better or for worse.

The story sounds dreadfully sad at first,but as you get deeper into the minds and hearts of the characters,you can taste the sweet along with the bitter. One of the best components of the book is that all of the players are well fleshed,including the men. Even Nishta's controlling husband is given some space to showcase his point of view,which doesn't justify his behavior yet allows you to understand why he does what he does.

One of the strongest relationships amongst this cast is between Laleh and Adish,a couple who are each other's true yin and yang. Each of them are solid characters on their own but together,the two of them nicely display a realistic love that allows forgiveness for well intended errors as well as constant devotion:

The World We Found is a thoughtful look at how the more things can change,the basics can still remain the same. This novel should be high on the list of must reads for book clubs everywhere and is now available at a bookseller near you.

Even if you've never one of Umigar's novels before(this is my first time reading her work)and feel a little daunted by something that looks so serious, fret not. Her pace on the page is well measured but not rushed or too leisurely,not to mention that her themes of friendship and love,particularly female bonding, are universal,regardless of time,place and tradition:

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