Thursday, February 11, 2016

Goddess of Fire by Bharti Kirchner

Moorti - widowed at just 17 and about to be burned on her husband's funeral pyre - is saved from the fire by a mysterious Englishman. Taken to safety and given employment by her saviour Job Charnock, Moorti, renamed Maria, must embrace her new life amongst the English traders. But the intelligent and talented Maria is not content to be a servant for the rest of her life, and seizes the opportunity to learn English. This, she hopes, will bring her closer to the kind and gentle Job. But with so many obstacles in her path, will she be able to overcome adversity and danger in the pursuit of her dreams? Filled with the heat and beauty of India, Maria's story of compassion, hope and love lingers long after the final page.

One of the most reprehensible customs of old India is the practice of Sati. This is where a widow, no matter the age, is forced by family (usually the deceased husband's relatives) to throw herself upon the burning pyre while her husband is being cremated. This is how GODDESS OF FIRE opens. As 17 year-old Moorti is about to be placed upon her husband's funeral pyre, she is rescued by an Englishman named Job, an English trader. They escape the village and Moorti enters a new life, one that is filled with hard work and poor surroundings. She is passionate about learning English and son, Job falls in love with her, and she enters a new, more exciting, more privileged life. But this too, brings great risk for the couple because of racial and cultural prejudices. 

The best part about this book is that Goddess of Fire is based on real characters. It makes a strong statement about the prejudices and turmoil between the English and Indians while giving readers a detailed glimpse into the more exotic India of old as the nation and its people must come to terms with tumultuous changes set aflame by English traders. 

Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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