Anila's Journey
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Anila's Journey

3.36 of 5 stars 3.36  ·  rating details  ·  101 ratings  ·  28 reviews
Set in colonial India, this richly layered coming-of-age tale follows a spirited young artist on a journey up the Ganges — and through the enigmas of her past.

How can Anila Tandy, left to fend for herself after her mother's death, dare to apply for a job that is clearly not meant for a woman? But somehow the "Bird Girl of Calcutta," art supplies in hand, finds herself on a...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published October 14th 2008 by Candlewick Press (first published January 7th 2008)
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Great for Eva Ibbotson fans and anyone who likes basically gentle historical fiction with one caveat there is a very rough scene with a boy who has been tortured. Also please note there is no romance with the main character although there is some romance in the book.

This is set in late 18th century India and is the story of a girl who has an Indian mother and an Irish father. Her mother is dead and her father missing but she has the fortune of being an incredible artist from a young age and so...more
Feb 17, 2014 Seabreeze rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: lovers of young women's 'journeys' in life
Loved the story of a young woman struggling to develop her art in colonial India. THe setting was lush.aot of it, set on an actual river journey, where she is to document different birds. Read it quite a while ago and just remembered it! But I recall that there was a nasty conflict on the boat with a young man. THe ending not to give it away was satisfying, the characters well portrayed; including fortune tellers,the setting was rich and the book was written beautifully.
Perhaps this might be ca...more
This is a really fine book. For some reason it was aimed at the YA market but I think it will appeal to older readers just as much. Densely textured, fabulously descriptive, beautifully realised, it tells the story of Anila Tandy, an eighteenth century Irish-Indian girl fending for herself in Calcutta. Shown in a series of chapters interspersed with flashbacks, it describes how Anila’s Irish father seemingly abandoned his Indian “family,” leaving her mother with little choice but to pine away as...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Tasha for

When Anila Tandy's guardians, the Hickeys, decide to leave Calcutta, they beg her to accompany them, but she stubbornly refuses to come so that just in case her long-gone father returns as he promised many years ago, she'll be there.

Miss Hickey then sets her up with everything she'll need to survive by herself. Most importantly, she finds Anila a job as a bird painter on an expedition up the Ganges River.

As the days go by and she discovers new birds, she a...more
This book took me a few weeks to read and I'm usually a quick reader. Quite frankly, I was bored with it. The pages dragged on and, considering the length of the book, not much happened outside of flashbacks. It was rather depressing. In the case of Anila's mother I imagine that much of details were probably correct, in the opportunities and hardships she faced. However, I was less convinced of Anila's apparent freedom and self sufficiency, especially considering the book was set in 18th century...more
Reading this incredibly poetic and lovely book is like floating down a calm river--the author has quite a gift for imagery. I did quibble with many too-neatly-tied plot threads, but overall this is a very compelling book. It is told in alternating memories and present events by Anila, a young half-Indian, half-Irish woman, living in the late 1700s in colonial India, who takes a job as a zoological painter for an Englishman. Her astonishing gift for painting birds is inherited from her Irish fath...more
Karen Ball
The inspiration for this story came from a painting in the National Gallery in Dublin. Set in the lush tropics of 18th century India, this is an amazing, beautifully written tale. Anila Tandy is the biracial teen daughter of an Irish father and a poor but beautiful Bengali mother. Her father has mysteriously disappeared, and her mother has recently died, leaving Anila with kind guardians. Her guardians are moving to the city of Madras, and Anila wants to stay in Calcutta in case her father reap...more
Nice tale but overly simplistic.
Mostly redeemed by the factual detail. The hardships are too quickly overcome by the intervention of 'nice' liberal open minded Britishers. There were some about but 18th century India was not at all kind to 'half castes' (where the term originates) as the class ridden British society exacerbated the existing Indian caste system.E.G a young English soldier would be unlikely to marry a disabled Armenian orphan with no dowry......
I hadn't realised that it was YA fi...more
The Library Lady
Much as I enjoyed it--and as a fan of Rumer Godden, Paul Scott and just about everything else written about India outside of A Passage to India, I did--I don't see tons of appeal here for teens.
It's uneven and some of the characters and incidents don't work as well as the author thinks they should. But it was good enough that I will be interested in what she comes up with next, even if I don't buy it for my particular library.
This book reminded me, ultimately, of some of Charles Dicken's work- where the heroine is good and pure (and see that she stays that way!) though several of the surrounding members of the cast are wicked scoundrels. Yet everything works out for the best after several convoluted twists. All of this told through an Indian girl's viewpoint.

Does an average Indian Dickensian soap opera about sum 'Anila's Journey' up? Well, it does for me.

Additional: it will appeal much more often to women than to men...more
Miriam Lynah
Nice, quiet story about a young girl in India. Not particularly historically accurate - girl has astonishing luck and opportunity - but a nice, calm read.
309 pages. Anila Tandy is half Irish and half Bengali living in colonial India, and she has a wonderful gift with drawing, especially birds. She is alone in the world, as her father left years ago, and her mother died of dispair a few years later. Anila dares to apply for the draughtsman job with Mr. Walker, and even though she is a woman, she is accepted and taken on a revealing journey up the mystic Ganges River. Her story is revealed in alternating chapters between her past and her present, a...more
Meagan Carberry
I bought this book a few years ago and I had already read the first few chapters and I wondered why I hadn't kept going. I've figured out why. I really hated this book. It dragged on and on and nothing major happened for a very long time and it just wasn't enjoyable for me at all.
Jul 12, 2013 Katie rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
This book was very interesting. The writing style was not quite like other books, but it was endearing, nonetheless. I particularly like how everything fell into place at the end, but it didn't feel like the author was just tying up all the loose ends. A series of very believable (and sometimes, seemingly hard-won) coincidences led to a very satisfactory ending to a story of a girl who is not quite like anyone else, as she find her way through a difficult life.
It only took 6 weeks or so, but I finally finished it! It was a very interesting story, not like any others I've read, but parts were very disturbing to me, and I also wondered about the likelihood of some of the scenarios (particularly relating to the freedom allowed to the young, single female characters), given the time frame (late 1700s).

Though it's from the YA/Children's I wouldn't recommend for younger readers in those categories.
thought it was good,,a lot of the characters didn't really have any different qualities,,the plot was good and Anila's story original..but i felt something was missing,,,needed more....just more.

The setting was vividly discribed and being from the same culture i thought Mary Finn did her research on Indian and Bengali Culture,,i couldn't help but smile everytime a certain Bengali or Urdu word was mentioned.

good ,light book.
Dec 16, 2009 Marilyn rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: 7th-9th grades
I enjoyed the Indian setting and descriptions of life for a poor girl and her mother in late 18th century Calcutta. Will teens read it? Not unless forced. It drags at the beginning especially and the writing is florid and interspersed with more Bengali words and phrases than most teens will want to plow through.
Anila Tandy, a young woman who is half-Irish and half-Bengali, must find a way to support herself in 18th century India, and chooses to try to become an artist for a scientific expedition up the Ganges, in this beautifully-written coming-of-age tale.
A lovely book- beautiful descriptions- young girl part Indian part-Irish with a gift of a good eye and a skill in drawing and love of birds and plants- on a journey on the Ganges. A real joy to imerse myself in.Well-written with glorious description.
Alyssa (The Shady Glade)
Not sure how I feel about this one. I think I need to digest it a little bit. I enjoyed it while reading it, which is always a good thing. The setting was so lush, and I loved hearing about the painting and drawing Anila was doing.
Beautiful, haunting, sad, and hopeful. A powerful tale of a girl retaining hope even as her innocence gives way under the heavy press of her circumstances. This story is as compelling as an exquisitely rendered canvas.
Love the lyrical storytelling that goes back and forth in time. The characters are strong the setting well portrayed. The ending is weak and think turn out by coincidence.
Anila's Journey is based in India, with Anila having a Irish father and Indian mother. Anila's father leaves to go back to Ireland leaving Anila and her mother.
A small glimpse of life in India, during the 18th century. Good story.
I liked it, but wasn't quite sure it was appropriate for YA.
Shanna Smith
Great cultural read. Set in period India.
Karen Lupul
Loved the descriptive writing. Fresh story.
Melancholy, but mostly just boring.
I was bored.
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What's The Name o...: Teen Fiction set in 19th century India [s] 4 26 Mar 18, 2013 04:48PM  
Mary Finn worked for years as a magazine journalist with Radio Telefís Eireann, the Irish broadcasting service. She says ANILA'S JOURNEY, her first novel, was inspired by the story behind the eighteenth-century PORTRAIT OF AN INDIAN LADY painted by Thomas Hickey. Mary Finn lives in Dublin.
More about Mary Finn...
Belladonna No Stars at the Circus The Adventure Guide to Dublin Out & about in Dublin

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