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3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  582 ratings  ·  56 reviews
The renowned author Bapsi Sidhwa and the equally renowned filmmaker Deepa Mehta share a unique artistic relationship: Mehta adapted Sidhwa’s novel Cracking India for her brilliant film Earth, and here, Sidhwa adapts Mehta’s controversial film Water to the printed page.

Set in 1938, against the backdrop of Gandhi’s rise to power, Water follows the life of eight-year-old Chuy
Paperback, 240 pages
Published March 29th 2006 by Milkweed Editions (first published 2006)
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Moth Smoke by Mohsin HamidThe Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin HamidKartography by Kamila ShamsieA Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed HanifCracking India by Bapsi Sidhwa
Notable Books by Pakistani Authors
34th out of 156 books — 135 voters
The Kite Runner by Khaled HosseiniA Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled HosseiniA Fine Balance by Rohinton MistryThe God of Small Things by Arundhati RoyThe Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
Best South Asian Fiction
194th out of 419 books — 1,290 voters

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(showing 1-30 of 1,137)
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This is a wonderful story, a painful story, of young widows and old widows, who were deserted by their in-laws when their husbands died, to live out their lives in an ashram. An ashram or a brothel? You need to read this book to find out the terrors and injustice that befell widows in India during Colonial times. Sati had been outlawed, (widows would put themselves on a pyre of fire and die for their husbands), but terrible injustices prevailed for widows. This book portrays the pain, the unhapp ...more
Based on the script. Terribly written. The movie is in subtitles which qualifies it as a book. Read the movie instead.
This story is heart wrenchingly sad. Life in a widow's ashram in India in 1939 is not a pretty story. Rules of the Brahmin caste state widows must go through a life of seclusion and separation if their husbands die. They live out their lives in ashrams with shaved heads and white saris.(white being the colour of mourning)

'Water' is the story of a child, who was married off at 6yrs (but remained at her family home until puberty). Fortunately or unfortunately her 45+yrs husband dies before she ev
This is the novel based on "Water", the Canadian film directed and written by Deepa Mehta. It is also the third part of Mehta's Elemental Trilogy, preceded by "Fire" and "Earth." I really liked all three films but with water, I had to struggle to experience the emotional factor which was lost in the movie due to the bad acting of Lisa Ray and John Abraham. However having said that, I still really liked it so I grabbed the book the first time I saw it and hoped I'll be able to find those emotions ...more
Amazing book. She rips your heart out with the book in such a way that you enjoy it.

It's beautifully written, despite the fact that it's based on a movie, and not the other way round.

Beautiful book. I'd highly recommend it.
Ayesha U
An amazing novel written by Bapsi Sidhwa! This books is basically a film script turned into a novel. It's about the young widows and customs surrounding them in India.
Lei el libro posteriormente a ver la película y, tanto uno como la otra me encantaron. A través de la historia de Chuyia, una niña viuda a los ocho años de edad, conocemos el interior del ashram al que va a vivir, un lugar donde malviven mujeres de todas las edades cuyo único delito para semejante vida es haber quedado viudas tras matrimonios concertados. La desesperanza y una cierta fatalidad envuelve a esas mujeres, que viven en una precaria situación fuera de la sociedad. Chuyia es una niña y ...more
Lana Drown
La magia del libro está en que el lector vive lo que significa ser viuda en La India a través de los ojos infantiles de Chuyia: lo malo no parece tan malo y en la mente de la niña las ilusiones siguen existiendo. Se rebela ante normas que no comprende y sutilmente martillea la conciencia de algunas compañeras que llevaban muchísimos años asumiendo el infeliz papel de viuda que el destino les había impuesto. Las ideas de Gandhi, que abogaba por la dignidad de estas mujeres, también aparecen en la ...more
These are some of the last words Chuyia hears from anyone familiar to her, as her condition abandons her in an ashram for Hindu widows to spend the rest of her life in renunciation. Chuyia, failing to realize her condition upon arrival, enters the ashram innocent and naive, as the elderly widows surround her and one proceeds shave her soft head. Watching Chuyia begin to understand her circumstance as she terrifyingly runs for escape screaming for her family, one can only feel a tragic catharsis ...more
One of the most amazing books I've ever read, Water isn't so much about a six-year-old widow than it is about a beautiful young widow who defies tradition and finds love. Through a cruel twist of "fate," Chuyia, the child widow, is abandoned by her family (as with all widows) and forced to live in an ashram with other widows. Deprived of fried foods, a bed, sweets, colorful clothes and jewelry, the widows live on a meager subsistence but few accept Chuyia. Kalyani, a 20-something widow befriends ...more
It was okay, but I'm not sure I can credit it with anything more. It was clear that this was a book written from a movie, and it read as such. There were too many points of view that changed without warning. Names were given to characters that the main character hadn't learned yet. The main character herself is wonderfully written and behaves just as a little girl should, and isn't given a more mature personality than what is expected from a girl of such a young age. However, the story didn't al ...more
This is a longer version of the screenplay of the movie by Deepa Mehta. It is set in 1938 in Rawalpur, a village on the Bihar-Bengal border. The condition of women and plight of widows shapes up as part of a larger narrative in this book. The book is a finely crafted depiction of the most basic human tendencies. It narrates the anguish of the eight year old Chuyia who is rendered as a widow and how eventually she befriends Kalyani. Despite the focus primarily being on the plight of widows of Ind ...more
Pretty good novel based on the movie. The characters are well fleshed out, even the 'bad' ones, it all strikes a nice balance. I loved Shankuntala, an educated woman's inner turmoil making sense of mindless tradition, her faith and her conscience, and Chuyia's innocent questioning of oppressive norms ("where do the men widows go?"). Does not blatantly discard tradition/religious edicts as meaningless but tries to find meaning in oppressive customs of the time for the people living under them, an ...more
had a bit of trouble understanding the beginning of the story, but as the story progressed became very fond of this book. it narrates the story of the widows in India, in the times when Ghandi's ideology was starting to spread through India. A sad story of a young girl who becomes a widow and who is left by her family to live with other widows in a house for widows. In this house the girl encounters different widows and her live changes forever. The book is based on the movie with the same name, ...more
This is the rare case where the movie is much better than the book.
Kelly Lack
I went to this movie alone in India, thinking that because it was nominated for an American Oscar and all the Indian billboard ads were in English, that there would at least be subtitles. So wrong. But the movie was beautiful and I was captivated from start to finish. I then searched everywhere in India for the book in English. When I found it, I could not put the book down! It might have been because of the movie experience, but I just love this book. The topic of child brides/widows is fascina ...more
Started reading this novel without realizing it was based on the movie, not the usual scenario. It was a fantastic book and I have already recommended it to others. Provides a very evocative glimpse into a world I did not even know existed. There are parts at the beginning that feel out of place in the narrative, more instructional/informational than supporting the storyline, but other than that one small issue I loved this novel and will be picking up 'Cracking India' very soon to read more of ...more
This is a good story and I was not aware of the horrible way widows are (hopefully were and not anymore) treated in 1938 India. Once their husband dies, a woman loses all status in society and is even considered dangerous because of her sexuality.
I felt like this had the potential to be a really great novel, but just fell short somehow. Maybe because the author had such a fast deadline and needed more time to write....anyway, this is good but not as great as it could have been, in my opinion.
This is a rare example where the movie is superior but then it came first. Sidhwa has made a valiant attempt to capture the movie in a novel. It is a story of heartwrenching unfairness. A horrid example of the experiance of widows in 1930's India. The story is disturbing and beautiful. The movie is one of my all time favourites. It's subtitled but you won't care. Treat yourself and read the book and see the movie.
A book based on the movie by the same title. I tend to avoid these because I feel like a book should offer more than the movie, rather than being a simple repetition; however, Bapsi Sidhwa does a very nice job of recreating scenes with text and describing inner thoughts of characters. When I ended the book, I really wanted to know more about what happened to the characters afterwards, which is always a sign of a good read.
While the subject was very interesting, I found that the book jumped around a lot and that there wasn't really great character development. I cared about the characters, especially little mouse, but I never really felt I got to know them. The movie was significantly better, and maybe because this was an "adaptation" from the movie is why I feel it fell flat.
Chris Desmottes
I loved this book. Another one I just couldn't put down. It takes place in the 1930's in India. It is the story of a 9 yr. old girl in India who is bethrothed to a man in his 50's. He dies and according to custom, she is sent to live in a house for widows for the duration of her life deprived of everything. It is sooooo sad. But a great read.
I loved this book. I felt it really showed the confusion and horror of a little girl confined to an Ashram (house for widows in India). The story was poignant but did not become overly emotional. I also liked that their wasn't a storybook fairytale ending (as there just seems to many of those out in the world today).

Definitely a great read.
Shiva Pillai
this is an amazing book. the movie was good, the book even better..
Trivia: the movie and the book were released at the same time
the movie was shot in India and Sri Lanka...
the movie was not permitted to be released in India. It was released in Canada...

amongst the finest books by Bapsi Sidhwa...
I love this story so much I had to give it five stars. This is one of two movies (memoirs of a geisha being the other) that I have watched where I enjoyed the movie so much more than the book. The movie is subtitled, so it feels like a book. Watch the movie and save yourself time reading the book.
May 29, 2008 Athena rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Athena by: DeAnn
Shelves: never-finished
one of the three of the earth/fire/water movies set in india, this book is actually based on the movie instead of vice-versa. I think that was its main drawback. Otherwise it was a window into a bizarre world into the isolation of widows in pre-Gandhi India. I figured I should just see the movie.
E' singolare che un libro nasca da un film e non viceversa. Le 3 stelline sono motivate da una certa mancanza di approfondimento psicologico, ma la descrizione della vita delle vedove indiane "ante Ghandi" è coinvolgente.
Ne consiglio la lettura e anche la visione del film Water.
Bapsi Sidhwa is a friend of the writer and director (Deepa Mehta) of the beautiful and sad movie "Water," and she wrote a novel based on the screenplay. I've read a number of Sidhwa's other books, and she is a talented writer. The story is tragic and heartwarming at the same time.
This was an amazing book and movie. I have an autographed book. For 1947:Earth, Deepa Mehta asked her to do the movie from the book and this time, she wrote the move and asked Bhapsi Sidhwa to write the book after. Should have won an Oscar. Great book.
Unusual in that the book canme after the novel. A fascinating story with a fiesty young girl as the main character in this novel about what happens in India when you are widowed - even at 7 or 8 years old. Quite unimaginable to westerners!
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Amazing Read 1 18 Apr 06, 2009 03:25AM  
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Bapsi Sidhwa is Pakistan's leading diasporic writer. She has produced four novels in English that reflect her personal experience of the Indian subcontinent's Partition, abuse against women, immigration to the US, and membership in the Parsi/Zoroastrian community. Born on August 11, 1938 in Karachi, in what is now Pakistan, and migrating shortly thereafter to Lahore, Bapsi Sidhwa witnessed the blo ...more
More about Bapsi Sidhwa...
Cracking India The Crow Eaters An American Brat The Pakistani Bride City of Sin and Splendour: Writings on Lahore

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