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Sometimes I find contemporary novels to be full of very unlikeable characters (aka The Nest). As if, creating them is a hallmark of modern literary fiction. The family in this story is flawed but not so awful I wanted to know why they behaved or felt a certain way. I liked how the story unwound, great pacing and I liked how the grandchildren are the catalyst in bringing them all together. Many plot lines to unpack—would be a good book club book.
This is a closed-room type mystery, except that the only mystery is how Dava Shastri's legacy will play out. Dava Shastri, an Indian-American woman who is rich and philanthropic, discovers she has a terminal illness and takes matters into her own hands. She invites her four children, their partners and their children to stay at the island house she had hoped would be passed from generation to generation. As they are all stuck on the island after being snowed in, Dava has to deal with the media surfacing her deeply buried secrets after her death is prematurely announced and each child comes to know their mother a little better.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book. As Dava would want it, and as expected from the title, everything revolves around her. Each chapter shares a perspective of the lives of each of her children and how their upbringing has ultimately molded them; as well as the two secrets she had tried to bury during her life. The story lingers on what we hope for our children and what they actually get out of everything we give them. Things never turn out exactly as we would hope... In the end, while each character is selfish in their own way, the final message is "what good have you done for others lately?"
This book was recommended by the Amazon editors. I usually pass on their recommendations, but the theme of faking one's death to find out what people say about you caught my attention. An intriguing theme, but what gives the book a five-star rating is the wonderful character development. You are virtually certain to find someone you know in Dava Shastri's citcle of family and friends. You may even know every one of them. A lovely read from beginning to end. Enough said.
I debated whether to round my 3.5-star rating for this book up or down. For me, the main argument for rounding up was that the book, overall, was well done. It read naturally, with no glaring faux pas, and was beautifully edited. That counts a lot to me because so few books, even print books, are these days. I also found the premise for the plot intriguing and wish that I liked the resulting book more.
Ultimately, though, the main argument for rounding down won the day. I didn't like any of the Shastris. They were, except for Arvid Persson, Dava's late husband, uniformly selfish. Dava herself, despite being a world-renowned philanthropist, was toxically ambitious and consumed by controlling her legacy. The only characters besides Arvid who I found sympathetic were Colin and Vincent, Sita's and Arvie's husbands, respectively. I felt sorry that they were stuck in the Shastri-Persson clan.
Would I read another book book by Ramisetti? I don't know, which is probably the biggest reason for the three stars.
It just didn't mesh together for me. I liked characters, husband, songvwriter... everyone but I did not care about her last day... as I should of. Frankly I have been known to cry at a poignant commercial... maybe if I knew more about the building of the Co and charity trusts. Maybe if I learned about the near future in which she lived, and presumably had something to do about it. Even the building of the Island,the book always left me wanting more story less leading lady. And saying that I know it's about her ambitions, will power, orchestrations.