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The Lilac House

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  767 ratings  ·  125 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.
352 pages
Published April 24th 2012 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 2010)
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Average rating 3.45  · 
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 ·  767 ratings  ·  125 reviews

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Apr 02, 2012 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.
Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: indian
Loved it immensely...the cyclone stories and the story and the characters and the way it was told.. Anita Nair is one author who has not disaappointed me so far..
A story focussing on relationships, especially the fragile man-made marital bond and the strong bond of parent child relationship.
Past few days I was peeking into the world of Meera and Jak and their family and friends . I am still reeling under the shock of what happened to Smriti.
This book slowly warmed up to me. An initial 3 stars became a definite 5 star read , but alas! the sudden unsatisfactory ending robbed it of its coveted star.

I would definitely read it again sometime later in life,
Sherri Huntley
Dec 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it it was ok
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.
Kelli Bragg
May 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Rekha Monger
Jan 15, 2017 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 rated it liked it
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
Jan 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 22, 2012 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.)
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! ...more
Feb 18, 2012 rated it liked it
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.
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
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
Sep 01, 2013 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 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 07, 2012 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!
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.. ...more
Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'Lessons In Forgetting' by Anita Nair is a story of two lonely people, each tortured in different ways by things they have lost, things they can’t help but remember or by things they never knew and need to find out. It’s a beautiful tale set in southern India, juxtaposing sophisticated city life with traditional rural ways, the different prejudices of these environments, and bringing two characters with their own personal tragedies together and leaving us as readers to observe whether they can b ...more
Ashima Jain
Oct 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-issue
The second book from my last hurried visit to the library was by Anita Nair. Incidentally, this also happened to be my introduction to her writing which is shocking, considering she has written so many books which have been translated into multiple languages across the world.

Meera is an impeccably groomed corporate wife with a successful career as a cookbook writer. One day her husband fails to return home from a party, leaving her solely responsible for her two children, her mother, her grandmo
Sreesha Divakaran
Jun 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
It took me some time to write a review for this. Mainly because when I finished reading it, I couldn’t praise it in full sentences. That’s how struck I was with this book. It is an excellent piece of writing (goes without saying, it’s Anita Nair after all!) There are strong shades of feminism in the tale, themes about midlife crises and an undercurrent of a mature love story of two middle-aged individuals.
Without giving away any plot details, I would like to admit that Smriti, the sufferer of th
Jun 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I seldom did read books by Indian Authors in these last couple of years, for I was busy burying myself under a heap of novels by foreign authors. The #BookstagramIndia has done me a huge favour in terms of pulling me back to a world of familiar, relatable and remarkable novels by Indian writers, with their tireless promotions, lengthy rants, and reviews replete with their love, affection, and admiration towards their favourite authors.

Inspired by those fervent discussions, I picked up LESSONS IN
Jan 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
I read Nair’s “Ladies Coupe” many years back and liked it very much. “The Lilac House” also touches upon the same topic – the status of women in Indian society. Via the two main characters, and the secondary female characters, Nair slowly brings into focus the plight of women in India. There is Meera who is savvy and sophisticated, but who as she herself puts it has gotten used to the comfort of being taken care of. There is Nina, Jak’s ex-wife, Indian born and living in the US, who considers he ...more
Reema Nath
Jun 23, 2017 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
Zee Monodee
This book grew on me.

I picked it up mainly because it was set in India, with characters from Indian culture. Coming from that world myself, I'm always curious how authors portray Indians and the Indian way of life in stories.

While this book didn't disappoint, I had a hard time getting into it. This could be because the prose is very literary - this is not at all a piece of fluffy popular fiction or even a breezy, summer-beach read. It's a book that demands constant attention while you're reading
Aug 09, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was both elated and surprised that we made a movie based on local fiction. I have never watched the movie but I have like Anita Nair's past work, so resolved the read the book.

Finally after the book had lied on my shelf for couple of years, I picked it up. Strangely, I finished reading it in a single sitting. Strange because it is not one of those fast reads.

Meera, who lives in a lavish house, has always been an epitome of old money to her husband. One day when he doesn't come home, she tries
Feb 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
During a nonchalant start at an upper middle-class wine reception in Bangalore, Anita Nair immediately immerses us in the world of yuppie Bangalore, mainly through Meera. She is educated and a suburban housewife, who has nevertheless left further studies and traces of self-worth for the Bollywood expectation of prince charming. But within a few pages, Meera's world is suddenly thrown into chaos when her husband simply does not come home. Interspersed with the story of Professor Jak, who helps th ...more
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Anita Nair is the bestselling and critically acclaimed author of the novels The Better Man, Ladies Coupé, Mistress, Lessons in Forgetting, Idris: Keeper of the Light and Alphabet Soup for Lovers. She has also authored a crime series featuring Inspector Gowda.

Anita Nair’s other books include a collection of poems titled Malabar Mind, a collection of essays titled Goodnight & God Bless and six books

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