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First Darling of the Morning: Selected Memories of an Indian Childhood

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  713 Ratings  ·  93 Reviews
First Darling of the Morning is the powerful and poignant memoir of bestselling author Thrity Umrigar, tracing the arc of her Bombay childhood and adolescence from her earliest memories to her eventual departure for the United States at age twenty-one. It is an evocative, emotionally charged story of a young life steeped in paradox; of a middle-class Parsi girl attending C ...more
ebook, 320 pages
Published October 6th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 2003)
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Dec 16, 2014 Cindy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been a fan of Thrity Umrigar for several years. Her fiction is masterful. She is a professor at CWRU, and I've wanted to read her memoir ever since I heard her speak at a book signing.

It starts out in a rather depressing fashion, with descriptions of Thrity's raging mother who likes to beat her only child with switches, and even gets a glimmer of enjoyment in her eye when she beats the children she tutors. She is cruel and manipulative. No doubt a victim of her own untold sorrows and disap
Manu Prasad
Jul 25, 2011 Manu Prasad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review
Its difficult not to like a book that starts off with a reference to 'The Sound of Music'. After all, for a generation, there are so many memories attached to that movie. It serves as a good snapshot for what the book holds in store, a 'Wonder Years' kind of nostalgic trip, one that I could immediately identify with, and one that supplies many lump-in-the-throat moments. The book is billed as 'Selected Memories of an Indian Childhood' and has done an excellent job of it.

We are with the child whe
Sayantani Dasgupta
I should've read the title more carefully. It does say, "selective memories of an Indian childhood." "Childhood." Not "life." But "life" is what I read for reasons unknown. Which this book clearly isn't. It is mostly about the author's childhood when her life revolved around school and home, like nearly all other kids. The quality of her prose is masterful, as expected from Umrigar. She paints a charming and truthful portrait of life in Bombay in the 1960s and 70s. The secondary characters are e ...more
This autobiography by Thrity Umrigar dealt with her childhood years spent in Bombay, India. It shows us glimpses from the first 2 decades of her life, upto the day she left for USA as a journalism student. This was a very intense and involving book. I was sympathetic to the various family trials faced by her in her tender years. I got a glimpse of how it is to grow up in the 60's and 70's - how your ideals are shaped, and what are your influences (personal as well as political). The characters I ...more
Aug 21, 2011 Arundhati rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thrity Umrigar just weaves magic with her words and has the power to create stories that are poignant and characters who stay with you after you finish the book. This was the second book I'd read of hers and my admiration for her rose to an altogether new level once I started reading this book. It takes tremendous courage to overcome one's own demons to write something so candid and brutally honest. And to make it a book that simply tugs your heart strings, nothing less than magic.
Aug 19, 2015 Maya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
First darling of the morning is a powerful and touching memoir of bestselling author, Thrity Umrigar. It is written as an apology to her troubled, but loving family, after she left them to finish her education in America. This memoir focuses on the childhood and adolescence of a young middle-class Parsi girl. Furthermore, it is set in Bombay, India during the 1960s and 1970s, despite being published in 2004. The novel mostly revolves around Thrity Umigar’s relationship with her family and friend ...more
Jan 03, 2012 Marcy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the personal memoir of Thrity Umrigar, one of the finest Indian authors. First Darling of the Morning is a coming of age story. Thrity grew up in Bombay with an abusive mother, a loving father and uncle, the uncle's daughter, and the most wonderful grandmother who doted on her granddaughter, aware of the humiliation that Thrity suffered due to her mom's "absolute" meanness. (Thrity's grandmother also suffered her daughter-in-law's abuse).

When Thrity is young, she has a hidden desire to
Dec 13, 2011 Mrsgaskell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thrity Umrigar is the author of The Space Between Us which I enjoyed very much so I was interested to read this memoir of her early life in Bombay where she grew up in a Parsi household. She initially comes across as a spoilt child and I can't say I ever felt much affinity with her. However it was an interesting account of complex family dynamics and Bombay life in the 60s and 70s.

In some ways Umrigar's life seemed a lonely one, although the household included her parents, as well as her father
Feb 23, 2013 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This memoir by Thrity Umrigar was a treat for me, since I've read almost all her books. I'm so glad I saved this one to read until now, after I'd already read most of them. It made reading about her life a lot more meaningful.

Umrigar's books share one common theme: culture blending and culture clash between India and America. This memoir explains so much about why she always tends to center on this topic (she came to America for graduate school and I believe never went back to India to live. The
Oct 19, 2016 Robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm usually a bit wary of books that begin in a character's childhood and progress chronologically through their adult years, as these books usually fall into two categories: (usually boring) biography, or gigantic, David Copperfield-esque novels. However Umrigar's memoir works well within this plan, perhaps because it is written in the present tense and feels much more novelistic than many memoirs or works of nonfiction. Like Knausgaard's autobiographical novel, it's nearly impossible to believ ...more
Aban (Aby)
Oct 23, 2009 Aban (Aby) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having read Umrigar's: "The Space Between Us" (excellent) and "If Today Be Sweet" (good), I was eager to read her memoires and they are well worth reading. I thoroughly enjoyed them, in part because I was born in Bombay into a Parsi family, and also had some convent education, hence Umrigar's memoires were particularly meaningful to me.

Umrigar's family are delightful, all except for her mother who alternated between loving and cruel behaviour. (I wonder at her family's reaction to her clear eyed
Apr 02, 2015 Histteach24 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed looking into the eyes of the author as I found it an insight to the themes of her books. I could see how The Space Between Us was born from her social and political beliefs. I also have never read a book that had pieces of Zoroastrian culture. I had a friend who was Zoroastrian, and it was interesting to hear him explain the religion, but so little is known about it around the world. Unfortunately, it is a dying population. Although the author does not write directly to us about the re ...more
Apr 09, 2016 Vene rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I will always list this book as one of my favourite books, forever. I love Thrity's writing - I like how she wrote something that is so abstract to be so concrete at the same time. For example: "We are a multi-limbed organism, all greedy hands and needy fingers, held together by history and memory and love".

For the fact that she showed her vulnerability by sharing her life story through this book is simply amazing. I am sure it took a lot of courage to do that. Her passion and empathy for the op
Carrie Bailey
Jul 04, 2010 Carrie Bailey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just finished reading this book last night and I loved it. It made me want to visit India more than ever. I was fascinated by the stories Thrity Umrigar told of her childhood in Bombay. I found the characters compelling and sympathetic especially her kind father, aunt, uncle, . . . in fact really her entire family with the exception of her cruel sadistic mother. She also did a wonderful job of guiding the reader through her progression from privileged Parsi youngster to political activist. The ...more
Apr 17, 2011 Virginia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read The Space Between Us last year, which I liked a lot. This is the author's memoir - also very good.
It's impressive how honest she is about herself as a child and a teenager - it made me feel sympathetically awkward for her, reading this. How hard is it to be a teenager the first time around, and then to write about it again, so clearly? Yikes. The mutual love between all the family members that lived with her as a child (except her mother) really shone, as well.
Reminded me a little of Ten
Nov 24, 2015 Poornima rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had only heard or Umrigar before and remember wanting to read her but somehow, never got around to it till now. And even now, unlike my usual practice I start off with her memoir as opposed to her novels.But I do not regret it one bit. Although not from Mumbai and not understanding much about the background that Umrigar comes from, I could still relate to a lot of the things she writes about. Exploring everything from family dynamics, friendship, rebellion, romance, the Emergency, Indira Gandh ...more
Really nice to read Thrity Umrigar's book about her childhood/background to better understand where she comes from, gives you a better understanding of her for when you read her books. I'm not sure if I would have loved the book asa "stand alone" book if I wasn't interested in her as an author, wanting to know how she thinks and why she writes what she does and chooses the topics she does. And the book stops when she gets to the US for her college studies, so I'm still curious about what happens ...more
Kris - My Novelesque Life

"First Darling of the Morning is the powerful and poignant memoir of bestselling author Thrity Umrigar, tracing the arc of her Bombay childhood and adolescence from her earliest memories to her eventual departure for the United States at age twenty-one. It is an evocative, emotionally charged story of a young life steeped in paradox; of a middle-class Parsi girl attending Catholic school in a predominantly Hindu city; of a guilt-ridden stranger in her own land, an affluent child in a coun
Sep 14, 2016 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book in the Juvenile section of the BYU library. I'm not sure this is a good book for a young person, given it's vivid descriptions of child discipline (called child abuse these days) by Thrity's mother and equally vivid descriptions of Thrity's anti-authority behavior during her own years as a juvenile. On the other hand, perhaps this is just the kind of book juveniles need to read and to learn from Thrity's experiences. Well, never mind, what do I know about children? For myself, ...more
Sep 22, 2012 Betty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I decided to read her memoir before starting on her novels, the reverse of what I usually do. The title is a lovely homage to her uncle, who called her that one day. It reveals the love of her family but hides the torment she suffered from her unhappy mother. I have an idea that she writes of flawed characters that she more easily understands than her shrew of a mother. And that is the difference between fiction and family. The book ends as she leaves for Ohio. How, I wonder, was she able to sta ...more
I really enjoy Thrity Umrigar's writing. Her book, " The Space Between Us" is one of my favorites. First Darling of the Morning is an autobiography of her years in Bombay, India, until she came to America as a young adult. For me, it lacked the drama and drive of her other writings. It seemed there was plenty of both in her home life. Thrity's mother is presented in an unpleasant light and perhaps it was too personal to reveal...

Her love of her father and auntie Mehroo are evident but the under
Constance Newman
Jun 18, 2012 Constance Newman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me a long time to get through this, which has probably nothing to do with the book itself and more my desire to close my eyes at night. But it's a beautiful book, especially the last fourth. What a brutal mother though... that was hard to read. It was very moving at the end though, especially since it's a true story, very honest and understandably difficult situation of wanting to move away forever but not wanting to leave loved ones, her father in particular.
Jun 28, 2009 Pat rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a memoir of the author's childhook in India. She was brought up in a Parsi household as an only child. Her parents were not happy together and she and her mother in particular did not get along though she really doted on her father. Her aunt had a lot of influence on her life. However, she eventually needed to leave by going to college in the US in order to live her own life and understand more of her family. So-so.
Cliffside Park Public Library (NJ)
Beautifully written.
Favorite passage:
"Every once in a great while, it occurs to me that I lead a schizophrenic life: I am a Parsi teenager attending a Catholic school in the middle of a city that's predominantly Hindu. I'm a middle-class girl living in the country that's among the poorest in the world. I am browning up in the country that kicked out the British fourteen years before I was born but I have still never read a novel by an Indian writer."
Glo Sollecito
Jan 23, 2016 Glo Sollecito rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am in love with this book. How amazing that I can find such kinship with a woman from such a different culture and environment! Not only did I feel a personal connection with her experiences but also a new found compassion for my own children as they struggle into their own unique personas. What she did reveal was poignant and from the heart but I have a feeling there is much more she chose to keep to herself.
May 26, 2012 Susan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: india
I liked this, particularly because it gave me some insight into the personal background of Umrigar's novels. Thrity Umrigar grew up as the only child in a middle class Parsi family in Bombay in the 60s and 70s and attended a convent school. An interesting look into the family life ( which was not always very pleasant), but like some of the other reviewers I found that Umrigar could be an irritating character.
Apr 11, 2011 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
love all that is India, and I have read other books written by Thrity Umrigar. There was no way I could resist a memoir of her childhood in India, and it did not disappoint. I found myself fascinated by the details of her childhood, and I enjoyed being a part of her evolution into a woman. It is a book that should be enjoyed with a nice cup of chai. : )
Dec 11, 2008 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful memoir of a girl growing up in Bombay (now Mumbai). I loved the complicated family relationships, the intellectual awakening, the culture mix and clash that Thrity felt. I also related to her struggle to define herself as a compassionate, good person when she was living a life of relative prosperity while surrounded by others who were much more desperate.
its an average recall of her past with memory gaps or imagination coming into play at times when she talks of her regular boozing high school evenings at a friend's place and the implausible part is how she skipped being caught by her meddlesome neighbours of 70s , her huge prying joint family, her mother, aunt many employees..etc.
Nov 10, 2015 Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Different biography where author selected only parts of her early life to write about. She was born and raised, until she left for America, in India. She came across as very frank about her parents, her family, and the country of her birth. Excellent writing and very entertaining. Highly recommend.
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A journalist for seventeen years, Thrity Umrigar has written for the Washington Post, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and other national newspapers, and contributes regularly to the Boston Globe's book pages. Thrity is the winner of the Cleveland Arts Prize, a Lambda Literary award and the Seth Rosenberg prize. She teaches creative writing and literature at Case Western Reserve University. The author ...more
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