We are pleased to present to you the first “Author’s Week with the Damsels”.
This week we’re featuring Padma Venkatraman author of Climbing the Stairs. Stay tune for a book review, author interview and a contest with your chance to win a signed copy of the novel. So make sure to stop by so you don’t miss any of the fun this week! Now onward to my review.
Climbing the Stairs, by Padma Venkatraman
In a male dominated society, where oppression was a fact of life for women, we see the struggle of one girl and her determination to overcome years of “tradition”. With a vividly described setting and strong female protagonist World War II in India comes to life in Padma’s first novel Climbing the Stiars.
Climbing the Stairs, YA historical fiction, is about fifteen-year old Vidya’s struggle for personal freedom that plays out against the backdrop of World War II and the nonviolent Indian independence movement led by Gandhi. Vidya is a bright, intelligent and willful girl whose dreams of attending college are shattered when her father is injured in a freedom rally. Forced to move in with her grandfather and his traditional household, Vidya’s only means of escape are her forbidden trips to her grandfather’s library.
While the plot does involve the war and India’s struggle for freedom from Britain’s rule the heart of the story lies in Vidya’s struggle against following the traditions of her strict culture. Even though the war is only a back drop we get a wonderful picture of what India was like. The world comes alive with descriptions and little details that are worked in almost seamlessly. I love novels where fact and story are woven together so well you finish the novel realizing you had a history lesson, without even realizing you’d received one.
Vidya is a likable character. While she starts off a little naïve, we quickly see her grow up after her father’s accident. Vidya faces many challenges from dealing with her guilt over her father’s beating to struggling against her family and its traditions, and with each conflict she grows. I became quite attached to her with each turn of the page.
This was an important time in India’s history and the author has brought the story to life in a believable and interesting way. What’s even more impressive are the different beliefs presented in the book and how we get to see both sides of the argument, but aren’t told one way is better than the other, that one way is right and one is wrong. We’re left to discover what we believe/think on our own.
This is a very easy read that packs a powerful punch. I recommend it to anyone who’s looking for something a little different. In fact I recommend it to everyone.
Visit Padma’s site Climbing the Stairs for more information on India’s culture and topics in the book.