Sandra 's Reviews > Tulip Season: A Mitra Basu Mystery

Tulip Season by Bharti Kirchner
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Aug 14, 12

bookshelves: whodunit, review-requested, angst-and-drama, character-driven, contemporary
Read from July 15 to August 14, 2012

You can also find this review on My Fiction Nook.

Mitra Basu, a gardener/freelance writer by trade, is of Indian heritage, making her life in Seattle after leaving her home country. She's best friends with Kareena, a counselor for victims of domestic violence, who's married to Adi, an IT Software company owner. She's also cultivated a friendship with an older woman, to whom she affectionately looks as her stand-in grandmother.

When Kareena suddenly disappears without a word and without a hint as to where she might have gone, Mitra dives head first into the mystery and tries everything she can to find her friend. During that journey, she realizes that for all the familial ground she shares with her friend, there are fundamental differences between them, which clearly set them apart. And perhaps also that some things are not what they seemed.

While the mystery itself was not particularly fascinating, the way Ms. Kirchner wove her story around it absolutely was. The book is chock full of metaphors, and the author uses gardening as a way to showcase the cycle of life. Dark clouds in the sky hint at a mood change, and flowers not blooming as well as they should serves as a metaphor for changes in Mitra's life.

Themes of friendship, family and betrayal play a big role in the book, as Mitra delves further into Kareena's disappearance and learns some valuable lessons.

The Indian culture, including its expectations for women, is also rather deeply explored, as is the old adage that one should respect and listen to one's elders.

While things don't necessarily end the way Mitra may have expected or hoped for, she also sees that when one door closes, another opens, and that it simply takes courage to walk across that threshold. The opening chapter and ending chapter are basically mirrors of each other, with the only exception that the man in the beginning has been switched for another, more suitable partner for Mitra.

Bharti Kirchner is a very visual writer, drawing a beautiful picture with her words. When Mitra is in Kolkata, India, to search for Kareena, the author's words transported me into that country, and I could almost smell the food she described. When Mitra works the flowerbeds with her hands, I checked my own fingernails for dirt, able to feel the earth between my fingers.

The book gives a fascinating look into that world, but never lets us forget, through Mitra's thoughts, that leaving was, for her, the right thing. She appreciates and longs for her home country, but also realizes that the expectations put upon a woman in that culture are more than she's willing to give.

Very nicely done.

3.5 stars.

I was approached by the author's publicist/agent for a read/review of this book. A free electronic copy was provided, but a review was not promised in exchange.
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Reading Progress

07/29/2012 page 60
24.0% "So far, this is a rather good mystery, while also giving interesting insight into the Indian culture."
08/10/2012
30.0% "So far, the men introduced in this book, with the exception of the police detective, are douchebags. Not sure if that's intentional or not, or what lies behind their secrets. We shall see."
08/14/2012
80.0% "uh...."

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