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A House Called Askival

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  112 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
A stunning and beguiling debut set in India, with a dual narrative, one in the past just after Partition, and the other in the present day

James Connor is a man who, burdened with guilt following a tragic event in his youth, has dedicated his life to serving India. Ruth Connor is his estranged daughter who, as a teenager, always knew she came second to her parents' missiona
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published November 1st 2014 by Freight Books (first published June 16th 2014)
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May 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
“A man's daughter is his heart. Just with feet, walking out in the world.”

---- Mat Johnson, an American author

Merryn Glover, a debut author, pens her extraordinary book, A House Called Askival, that tells two stories of a father and a daughter in two different timelines that run parallel like the beautiful hills in Mussoorie- a hill station in India, where the story is set. This heart-touching story provides a stunning outlook as well as the most remarkable view on my very own country and it's
Ian Smith
Jul 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Tears. This extraordinary, gorgeous and tumultuous book of cooking and violence and boarding school and beetles and communion and death and love and faith commands no less. And so I wept. Exquisitely observed and intelligently crafted, no other book has captured me in quite the same way - a magnificent immersion in the modern history of India, premodern mission, and the hill station of Mussoorie. Astonishing that this is Merryn's first novel. Most surely not the last.
I didn’t expect all that much from this book as it was a Kindle deal of the month offer (and those aren’t usually the crème de la crème, to put it mildly) but I was very pleasantly surprised.

It tells the story of three generations of an American Christian missionary family in India and it’s a gripping tale in every respect. It touches on the history of India (the terrible upheaval of partition and the violence in the wake of Indira Gandhi’s assassination by one of her Sikh bodyguards), the diffe
Sep 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
What I find intriguing in this book is that not only does it deeply resonate to those who have lived this experience (of which I am one), it takes our (somewhat, though never fully) shared experiences and makes it universal, of interest to a much broader audience, and in doing so validates that experience in a way that "talking about it" has never done.
May 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
I was looking forward to reading the book as I know the author and the authors family and well acquainted with Mussoorie where the novel is set. I was not disappointed and enjoyed he twists and turns of the story along with the twists zinc turns of the mountain paths. Combines missionary lives, boarding school , some interfaith issues set in context of troubling dark times in India!
Oct 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: south-asia
This is exactly the Mussoorie and boarding school that I experienced and remember.
May 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
This review was originally posted on my blog The Literary Snob.

I have a weakness for books set in India. The India of my imagination has been cultivated by reading the richly detailed portraits put forth by authors such as Arundhati Roy, Jhumpa Lahiri, Salman Rushdie, Rudyard Kipling, and E.M. Forster. I love the way authors vividly describe India; the wafting intoxicating smell of masala chai, the pops of vibrant colors in the background, the lushness of the local verdure, and the wide spectrum
Amarta Dasgupta
Mar 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful book starting from the Dying days of Raj era-encapsulating generations of American missionaries in India. The tumults of history right from Indian Independence and violence of partition to the riots which followed the death of Mrs. Indira Gandhi everything through the eyes of foreigners who gradually mingles with the Indian reality.
Nov 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
“India… conquered the foreigner first through the senses, and only later claimed the mind”

I took this book with me on a recent trip to India and was enthralled by the story unfolding on the pages in the novel. I then looked up at my surroundings to find that the experiences on the paper continued and echoed around me in real life. That of course is what TripFiction is largely about. As I sat with the langur monkeys reading the book (me, not them), the author also describes these fierce little bl
David Housholder
Feb 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Those of us who have lived in Mussoorie will be amazed at how vividly Merryn recreates the sights and sounds and scents of the hills using just words. She paints pictures with her words that take us back into this setting.
Those who haven't been in Mussoorie will be introduced to a delightful world. The book takes us incident by incident through three periods in the history of a family, interweaving the stories until we see the whole of the pattern.
My wife was leading a high school Activity W
Jun 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book makes events and setting accessible for those who may not have prior experience or knowledge of them and deftly navigates internal and external clashes of religion. It is a reminder that national or community struggle is different from personal struggle, and that both can have lasting effects on individuals and relationships. This book, too, though without having to hammer the point home, is about forgiveness.
Jan 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
i started this book over two months ago but got side tracked with other books. so I got a bit lost in the going back and forth in time in the book . I appreciated finding about the partition but I really was lost between the past and the present well written and very interesting history. bloody history. I enjoyed hearing about mussoorie d this is where Vern is from
Mona Bomgaars
Jun 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I must rate this 5 stars. From the first of the book as the author describes the wonderful ride from the plains of North India to the Musoorie bazaar and then further into the hills dotted with old missionary homes I was taken back into my memories. The interweaving of secular history and three generations of families was effective and continued to evoke memories of a rich and eventful past.
Robin Seyfert
Nov 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book... it has everything I love in a book: Characters you relate to and feel with (I cried buckets), plus a glimpse into history as if you're there, plus feeling transported to a new place.
Barbara Henderson
Jan 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Took me right into a world I had never experienced - could practically smell the monsoon in the pages and loved the main character Ruth.
Aug 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A House Called Askival tells the story of three generations of an American family living through turbulent times in India and is as colourful as its cover suggests. It is an epic story which covers almost 70 years of India's history in a very compelling and emotionally engaging novel.

Merryn Glover's novel transported me to India. So vividly does she write about the colours, the smells, the sights, the tastes that as I was reading I genuinely had a sense of being right there with Ruth and James.
I read this because my mother told me I should. It grows slowly more compelling, mostly because you want to shake the characters until they tell the truth to each other. I do struggle with communication based plots. Anyway, the shifts in time are a little contrived but mostly okay. I liked both characters, though the ending felt a bit contrived and HELLO SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION HAVE YOU HEARD OF DRUG TESTING (they have by now), and it some places it wasn't quite coherent. But overeall the setting ...more
Jane MacKenzie
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautifully written book, to be savoured rather than rushed through. A a debut novel it is of astonishing quality, with descriptions which transport you to India, and a story which is both heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. I loved this book, and felt enriched when I had finished it.
Mar 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book so very much. I'll even overlook my disbelief in the relationship between Ruth and Manveer because the rest was just so beautifully written. I could have been right there with Ruth in boarding school, or in the halls of the hospital with James and Ellen, or on the bus with all of those kids from Oaklands as they made their way fearfully back up to Dehra Dun. I couldn't put this book down, and never wanted it to end.
Aug 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult
As someone who was born and went to school in Landour, this book is both familiar and foreign. Mine was a different time. My family not so strict. My experience of boarding happier. But I recognize that some of my friends and classmates may have experienced a life more like the Connors.

This passage on the opening page is strikingly evocative, "Above, the town lay splattered across the ridge like the contents of an upended rubbish bin. It was bigger than before and even more crowded. Buildings s
Feb 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Ruth returns to India, where she grew up as the child of missionaries, to say goodbye to her dying father. They haven't seen each other in years. Each one carries a secret past, a burden that weighs them down and has defined their lives.
Father and daughter need healing and redemption but find it difficult to connect with each other. Set against the backdrop of India's sometimes violent history, the truth of the past is gradually revealed.
It took me a while to get into the book but in the end, I
Jean M
How wonderful, a five star book which is beautifully and thoughtfully written leaving you emotionally wrung out and pondering the need to forgive not only others but yourself. It reminded me of Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, the same soul searching, the same intrinsically good man who has devoted himself to his God, at times to the detriment of his children. A good book, well worth reading and one to read again.
Andrea Darby-stewart
Dec 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed the interplay of generations, religion, culture, nationality and family in this novel. The characters displayed their flaws in a way that made them very accessible. The descriptions were such that I had a vivid sense of the ambience and emotional state in each scene. Thank you for the recommendation, Birdie!
Thomas Dale
Jul 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
An interesting setting for a novel. For those of us who experienced missionary or boarding school experiences, a lot of the story seemed very familiar and various episodes rang true. Well written. I enjoyed reading the book.
Laura Waddell
May 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
Merryn Glover's astonishing debut novel has lingered with me since I put it down. The sights and sounds of post-Partition India so vividly described... I felt like I was right there. Moving and intelligent storytelling and compelling understanding of human nature from this exciting new writer.
Katherine Blessan
A beautifully written exploration of faith, love and passion in a cross-cultural / multi-religious context. Glover interweaves the different time periods of the story in a seamless way. Her characters are all flawed but sympathetically drawn. I loved this novel and look forward to reading more.
Aug 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Marvelous writing and very evocative for those who attended Woodstock and lived in Mussoorie & Landour.
Janet Still
rated it liked it
Feb 09, 2016
rated it it was amazing
Feb 25, 2015
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