Rating 6/10 stars.
Review contains minor spoilers.
This is a book whose title I found intriguing, but had no idea what to expect of the book itself. It's set in 20th century India, in a time and place where the Communist Party was very active, and centers around the family of "two egg" (fraternal) twins Rahel and Estha. They (and their mother) have a friendship (one that is highly inappropriate, according to the caste system) with an "untouchable," and when the twins' cousin comes to visit from England, a combination of events comes together and leads to tragic circumstances which will change all their lives forever.
I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, I loved some things about it - the author's use of language, in particular. She describes things vivdly, and her word play is interesting and evocative. I felt like I was given an authentic glimpse of India, and the family dynamic was fascinating (if disturbing). The story, also, was interesting, but (and here's where she lost me) somehow, in spite of the sadness and tragedy of the events, I never found myself really drawn in and able to relate to the characters. I found the author's "foreshadowing" to be excessive - from the beginning of the book, we knew that the young cousin was going to die, and as things progressed we were fed scraps of information about this, and other events, knowing that by the end of the book we'd have the full story. Often, I enjoy this sort of storytelling, and also the time-shifts that the author used (she went back and forth from the time of the main events, to a time twenty-three years later), but in this case, I didn't find it effective. I think she told us too much, too soon, and once I'd understood the gist of how things turned out, I found I wasn't particularly eager to learn all the specific details. In a book like this, the thing that could have saved it (in terms of my enjoyement) was some sort of major unexpected twist, but there wasn't really one of those. There were two things that we learn that I hadn't really expected, but nothing so earthshattering or surprising to shake away the feeling of anti-climax I experienced.
So, I enjoyed the prose and the story itself, but the pacing left me feeling unsatisfied by the time I'd reached the end of the book. I might read something else by this author, because I wanted to like this book and in some ways I did. Then again, I might decide to skip her future works.
(This book was my fourth for the year for the TBR Challenge in which I'm participating).