First Darling of the Morning
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First Darling of the Morning

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  485 ratings  ·  78 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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Cindy
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...more
Poornima
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
Aban (Aby)
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...more
Manu Prasad
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...more
Katie
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...more
Marcy
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...more
Mrsgaskell
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...more
Anamika
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 etc...so many employees..etc.
Virginia
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...more
Carrie Bailey
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
Kristin
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
Smitha
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
Betty
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
Annette
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...more
Arundhati
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.
Constance Newman
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.
Pat
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.
Susan
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.
Leigh
A compelling memoir of childhood which sheds light on both the author's life and also her fiction. Umrigar is definitely interested in what divides people (e.g., caste, gender, religion, education) which is very evident both here and in "The Space Between Us," as even the name of the latter book implies. I am thoroughly impressed by both her non-fiction and fiction.
Vbvicki
Almost as good as my favorite "The Space Between Us." The memoir of the author, tracing her Bombay childhood in an extended family to her eventual journey to the United States. She feels a stranger in her own country. She comes from a middle-class Parsi family. Her country is in poverty. She interweaves two coming-of-age stories-one of a small child, and one of a nation.
Karen
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.
Meg
Having read "The space between us" I was a little dissapointed with this book. Although the family drama was entertaining in pieces.. the book did not have a good flow.

All in all.. it gives a good glimpse into the life of the author.. and her emotions and family bonds.. i was dissapointed with the casual language used and the lack of flow and continuity.
Jim
I was engaged by the scenes and stories of middle-class Bombay life, but I couldn't help feeling that the author was a little too full of herself at times. That's the hazard of memoir, I suppose, because when I don't think of it as the author's own story, I am entertained by the narrator's spunk and "mad Parsi" antics. And I finished it wanting more.
Vickie
This is a coming of age memoir, not only of the author but of a country. India grows and changes along with Thrity, and she struggles to define her identity amongst all the complicated relationships in her life. The author's writing style is very beautiful. This random library pick has definitely opened up a new opportunity to read more of her books.
Shakirah
Thrity Umrigar..sigh, how I wish I can tell my past like she does. Her prose are mesmerising not in a flowery kind of way, she has all the right words to describe emotions, places, the weather, people. Her selection of memories is mesmerising. I am a confirmed fan. I see so much of me in her, I suppose many will, and that is what makes her book so personal.
Amy
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. : )
Jen
I am a fan of Umrigar's novels, and she personally replied to a fan email I sent once so I will basically love her forever. My favorite parts of this memoir were the high school years and the turbulence of changing India as the backdrop. I wish she'd write another so we could see what her life was like once she moved to America.
Patty Hope
One of Thrity Umrigar's best as she fills the pages with such poignant glimpses of her childhood and youth growing up in Bombay. So many Indian words begged description that I wish she would have included a glossary so I could have shared her vocabulary and understood her Bombay life better.
Marsha
I almost didn't read this book because the first chapter or two turned me off. I thought it was going to be endless descriptions of the child abuse she suffered. But I am glad I hung in there, as that was not what the book was about. I enjoyed this account of the author's Indian childhood.
Pjlevine
I guess because the author wrote so honestly, I felt like I knew her. But I didn't like what I knew. The author sensed she was the center of her family or rather the universe, and I saw her has rather small and trite with no ability for forgiveness. The character irratated me.
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127875
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. She teaches creative writing and literature at Case Western Reserve University. The author of The Space Between Us, Bombay Time, and the memoir First Darling of the Morning: Selected Memories of...more
More about Thrity Umrigar...
The Space Between Us The World We Found The Weight of Heaven If Today Be Sweet Bombay Time

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