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The Lilac House
Anita Nair
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The Lilac House

3.38  ·  Rating Details ·  611 Ratings  ·  106 Reviews
Meera is happily submerged in the role of corporate wife and cookbook writer. Then, one day, her husband fails to come home. Overnight, Meera, disoriented and emotionally fragile, becomes responsible not just for her two children, but also her mother, grandmother and the running of Lilac House, their rambling old family home in Bangalore.
A few streets away, Professor J.A.
ebook, 352 pages
Published April 24th 2012 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published January 1st 2010)
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Apr 02, 2012 Subha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really felt that this book should be turned into a movie, but only by a director who is as good as a writer Anita is.

Its gripping from page one till the end. I took this book to my trip to Goa and I finished it while my kids and husband took naps. I was so taken by the book that I kept thinking about the characters while I was alone. Well, I do that with every good book I read. So it was not a surprise with this book. Highly recommended.
Sherri Huntley
Dec 25, 2011 Sherri Huntley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I won this book from Goodreads and couldn't wait to read - I wasn't disappointed. The book consumes your attention from the very start. It's a wonderful story of people dealing with their own personal losses and shows how resiliant the human spirit is. Meera loses her identity when her husband suddenly diappears and her story crosses the paths of others who have suffered major losses in their life. Meera's journey to transform her life crosses the path of a new friend Jak who is also suffering. ...more
Mar 31, 2012 Mary rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It is hard for me to know what to write about the Lilac House. It took me weeks to finish it because I just didn't want to pick it up. The book was hard to follow, the story seemed to jump around. But I did finish it, and the last half was more engaging. I loved Meera, though, and how her character grew through the novel. The Lilac House just wasn't for me.
Rekha Monger
Jan 15, 2017 Rekha Monger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautifully crafted story of two lives : JAK and Meera whose world collides when Giri, the perfect husband of Meera goes missing one fine September afternoon. The story dwells on the universal theme of love, loss, grief and the rediscovery of the self.

Gripping from page one, I completed the book in 2 days straight at the risk of my eyeballs falling off it's socket. One of the best reads for me!
Long after I dusted the jacket of the book and returned to its place, the lives of the people in the
Jan 31, 2012 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-read
I'm debating whether to give this a 4 or a 4.5. It had me from page one with "somewhere in her a little girl skips." It's a really well-written book with important themes and interesting characters. Although I'm not usually a fan of mystery, the mystery surrounding Jak's daughter kept me guessing till the end, so I can see this book appealing to many readers. I liked the mother/daughter, husband/wife, father/daughter relationships a lot since they rang true to me. When all is said and done, this ...more
Jan 31, 2012 Marcia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-library

It started out slow for me and at times it was hard to follow. The story seemed to jump around at first, but once I got a clear picture of who these characters were and how they related to eachother I became invest in what happened to them. I thought Merra was a very likable character. I found myself cheering her on. I love how Merra thought the lilac house was an anchor only to find out that her true anchor was Giria. I liked learning about the Indian culture and Greek Mythology. I am looking f
Sep 22, 2012 Shelley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is very well crafted; I thoroughly enjoyed the characters, the plot, the pacing. A sometimes quite sad story about grief, starting over and different types of love, these are familiar themes to fans of Anita Nair, themes which are skillfully woven through and around the different life stories of the larger tale. A very worthwhile read and addition to her body of work. Recommended.
(Publication note: This is the same book published in the US under the name: The Lilac House.)
Kelli Bragg
May 16, 2012 Kelli Bragg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What amazed me most about this book was that I kept forgetting it was set in India - only when the characters mentioned the names of towns or food did I think, "Oh, that's right, this woman lives in India, not America."

May Be Spoilers (depending on what you think spoilers entail):

I loved the one recurring theme throughout of Meera imagining herself as Hera ("Meera Hera" - Meera was a scholar of greek mythology before marrying), and how Hera's marriage to Zeus and its various situations resembl
Sep 01, 2013 Suzanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: india
The lessons are hard and clearly focused on forgetting or coming to terms with grief and abandonment but not forgiving. There is no redemption here but rather a message of how to overcome and move on. Previous events which have affected the lives of the main characters echo current ones and are carefully woven into the story to emphasize the recurring nature of the hurt thereby underlining the difficulty of learning to forget. The story is moving and engaging and the principal characters evolve ...more
Diane S ☔
Jan 03, 2012 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was first attracted to this book by the title, I love the color Lilac but no one I know lives in a lilac colored house (though I do have a friend who lives in a wonderful old plum colored one). I also love reading novels that take place in different countries, with different cultures and this one takes place in Bangalore, India. Rather quickly, this book and its wonderful characters drew me in, Meera, who compares herself with Hera, the wife and helpmate of Zeus and Jak, a cyclone expert whose ...more
Mira Desai
I'd loved Ladies Coupe. Maybe because it cut close to the skin in terms of story AND it had a fairytale ending, if you know what I mean. Yep, even though it was a bootleggged copy.

In "Lessons..." something is missing. Like a dal you've tried to make perfect, but something's off, the spices lack that special,whacky something.

Maybe the setting was privileged and the solutions to the protagonists's problems were too pat.
Just wanted to tell her to get on with it.

And there are two plots in here, and
This book is a little difficult to follow in the beginning, but stick with it and it all falls into place. There are two main stories which interweave as the story progresses. Meera's story deals mainly with the complicated question of how we get our identify, the relationships between husband/wife, mother/child. Jaks or Kitcha (It took me a while to straighten out that they were the sem person) is dealing with discovering the cause of his daughter's accident which has left her extremely disable ...more
Sep 06, 2012 Shelley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is very well crafted; I thoroughly enjoyed the characters, the plot, the pacing. A sometimes quite sad story about grief, starting over, forgiveness and different types of love, these are familiar themes to fans of Anita Nair, themes which are skillfully woven through and around the different life stories of the larger tale. A very worthwhile read and addition to her body of work. Recommended.
(Publication note: This is the same book published in the India under the name: Lessons in For
Richa Kothari
The initial pages made me rethink to continue reading this book.The start is very slow.As the pace increased..i was captivated and intrigued..surprisingly the middle part is very intresting.There are strong shades of feminism & dealings wid mid lyf crisis in this book.Too many characters and there flashbaks are little confusing..All the goodness is overshadowed because the ending is very disappointing.A decisive action at the end could have been better..
Feb 07, 2012 Mansee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A good read...though the starting few pages ....made me rethink my decision of reading the book...coz they were not interesting enuf...but nevertheless, I continued and it became more poignant as the story developed....the lead characters were well defined..and some aspects of the marriages brought out well...I was dissapointed by the end though....esp. for one of the characters..Overall a decent read- I would nt recommend buying though- I read it as it was available in the office library!
Nishant Jha
This is a 328-pages long book; very long as per my reading standard & capability but I still went ahead & started it on my mother's strong recommendation. It starts very slowly & too many characters confused me plus they weren't very clear to me in the beginning...the book gathers some pace by the middle and then it gets very intriguing & binding! The last 100-odd pages are real nice and made reading this book worthwhile for me!
Feb 18, 2012 Carol rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I won the Lilac House from Goodreads.
The foreign names and places as well as the inserted passages of mythology made parts of the book cumbersome to read. Transitions from past to present time were somewhat confusing. Despite that, the storyline is interesting and not overly predictable. Characters are well developed.
Reema Nath
Jun 23, 2017 Reema Nath rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Through school and college we struggle to remember our lessons and then as the memories accumulate over the years, we need lessons to forget.
The main protagonists of this book are at that stage of life where memories have begun to hurt, the present had begun to unravel, and they need to cobble together a future out of this wreckage.
We meet two families, Meera’s and Jak’s which are both hit by different storms. Meera is a ‘corporate wife’ with a valuable old house. Jak is a climate scientist, fa
Jun 23, 2017 Karen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
I had to give up on this book. I made it to page 91 and I have absolutely no idea where this book is going and zero desire to try and figure it out. Two disparate protagonists with very dull, boring, sad lives.
May 06, 2017 Jackie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book and its characters. Great character development and strong relationships between family members. One really gets to know the people whom one is reading about. Set in India this will help to bring your understanding of the place and time.
May 07, 2017 Kmt1944 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just a wonderful story, though not without sadness. A bit confusing in the narratives, but great characters and an interesting insight into the lives of Indian women.
Soumya Prasad
The first and only other book that I have read of Anita Nair is 'Mistress'. A couple of my friends were talking about a particular Indian author whose work was excellent and this turned out to be Anita Nair. Another friend gifted 'Mistress' to me and I started reading it without any expectations just like what I have from most Indian authors. That book turned out to be fabulous and the writing was fantastic. It did have a nice South Indian touch to the story and that was something I could relate ...more
Also on

Firstly, many thanks to St. Martin's Press for granting me the early review of this book for which it was kindly received. I only had 5 days prior to the publication date to review this book and try as i must i could not and only finished it on the 1st May. I will explain throughout the review.
Secondly, the book cover, misses out on the Kindle it really does. But i can see the significance of the book imagery; the lilac background and are they pomengrates a
Anoop Mohandas
Mar 08, 2017 Anoop Mohandas rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't like the way the character Meera was thinking and felt irritating a lot of times. I am sure it could have written lot better. The book drifts a lot too faster from starting to end often confusing the readers.
Shobha Deepthi
I have not written a bad review of a book till date. Cause, if I find a book not worthy I just stop reading it. I do not even finish it. But with Lessons In Forgetting, I did finish reading it. Not cause for the suspense-thriller it feigns to be, but just to know if the book really is worth its ending.

I really liked Anita Nair for her book Ladies Coupe. I still think that is her best book till date. Read her other book Mistress, and left it half way some years ago. And now again knowing that he
Lydia Laceby
Originally reviewed at Novel Escapes

The Lilac House is a novel about starting over and finding the truth. Initially intrigued, this novel slowly unraveled for me and unfortunately I didn’t end up enjoying it as much as I had hoped.

Part of my problem was that The Lilac House wasn’t really written in scenes. It was more like snapshots – sometimes up to three in a page, separated by spaces. Initially this confused and irritated me because I was prepared to have moved on to a new scene only to dis
Pooja Jeevagan
It's one of the really hard book to review about...and though I am one of the worst critic for novel with loose ends...hanging neither here nor there and left to imagination (that too when you are just weaving those characters throughout the novel!!), I still will applaud the author for the way she wrote...a real break from the usual Indian writings...

Coming to the subject, the name is probably misleading...yes it starts with the lilac house; but that's not where it thrives and build fac
I'm loathe to be too firm in my comments: it's very likely there is a cultural disconnect.

My first question would be if this is a translated work. The sentence structure and word usage suggests that, though it might be reflective of the English spoken in India. (I hope to never run across the word 'pong' again, even before I looked it up to confirm what my suspicion was as to it's meaning, I thought it an odious word).

Then, I question Nair's interjection of the Hera myth. It derails without addi
Vidya Tiru
Mar 22, 2012 Vidya Tiru rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My take:
Meera is an accomplished society hostess and a successful author of cookbooks in Bangalore. When her husband walks out on her one day, she is suddenly responsible for the maintenance of their beloved Lilac House, her mother and grandmother, as well as her kids. With no cookbook in the horizon, she looks for a job and finds one as a research assistant with Prof JAK.
Professor J.A.Krishnamurthy aka JAK is a renowned cyclone expert in the US. When his daughter meets with an accident that has
My ER win from Librarything. This is my first book by Anita Nair. I was surprised that I won this book.

It started out slow for me at first. I was a little torn about how I felt about it. The main female character Meera is married and her husband just leaves her while they are at a party. Their son is also at the party and he is the one who informs his mother that dad is gone. That part touched close to home with me. And I was able to relate to the many emotions that go through your mind at that
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