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Belonging

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  780 ratings  ·  91 reviews
An intense, compelling, and finely wrought epic of love and loss, race and ethnicity, homeland and belonging

Lila Langdon is 12 years old when she witnesses a family tragedy after her mother unveils her father’s surprise birthday present—a tragedy that ends her childhood in India and precipitates a new life in Sussex with her Great-aunt Wilhelmina. From the darkest days of
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Paperback, 320 pages
Published September 17th 2015 by Myriad Editions
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Rupali Chinchanikar Walkade Can't think of any other novel featuring the Siege of Cawnpore....but one book that i read was ZEMINDAR by Valerie Fitzgerald set during the same time…moreCan't think of any other novel featuring the Siege of Cawnpore....but one book that i read was ZEMINDAR by Valerie Fitzgerald set during the same timeframe in Lucknow.....during the Siege on the Residency......
I want to read this book Belonging......waiting to get it in the e book format for my Kindle....(less)
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Average rating 4.22  · 
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Al Brookes
Nov 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: finished
I have never read a novel twice in a row before – finished it, then turned back to page one and started again. I did that with Belonging because it was so beautifully, intricately crafted, so layered and nuanced, that I knew I would love it as much, and see even more in it, the second time round.

This is not to say that I didn’t have to make an effort, for a few chapters, to get the relationships clear in my head – Cecily is Henry’s mother, Henry is Lila’s father. Each life from a different gener
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Michael O'leary
Sep 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This really is an important novel. I don't often review books, and in this case feel almost presumptuous doing so - because this isn't just another book.
I'm not going to summarise the plot - because, given the way the novel unfolds, this would inevitably provide "spoilers".
The novel addresses issues that are part of the construct of our current attitudes and assumptions. Racism, abuse, war, the construction of identity; it's all there, being examined by Umi Sinha in a way that is obviously deepl
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Imi
Two lines run through my head:
Beware! the root is wrapped about
Your mother’s heart, your father’s bones

They are from ‘The House of Eld’ and I understand them now. We carry our parents inside us, their blood in our veins, their voices in our heads.

[...] And, as I think that, I catch my reflection in the mirror and for a moment Mother is looking back at me, and her eyes are saying, ‘See, you are more like me than you know,’ and I feel the root tangling round my heart.
Spectacular! Historical fic
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Nina
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Belonging is a novel that is quietly wonderful. I didn’t have big expectations to begin with, but it’s brilliance slowly crept up on me until I realised that I couldn’t put it down. I don’t want to say too much as I think the blurb says enough - but just read it. Read it. It’s utterly brilliant.
Bigsna
Jul 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: indian-authors
Probably one of the most undiscovered and underrated books from the past year. I would never have discovered it myself, but for a completely unplanned (impulsive) trip to the local bookstore where I made a very poor choice and was back to exchange it for something better. And this time too, with the bookshop owner waiting to close shop, I almost randomly picked up 'Belonging'. The cover was beautiful, but the author and book were completely unheard of, and a quick check on GR told me that with a ...more
Tripfiction
Sep 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Novel set in India (“Remember Cawnpore!”)

India: “Everything is so extreme, the heat, the sun, the wild animals and the ever-present smell of death”

An insightful story set in the second half of the 19th century through and beyond the First World War. I knew in smatterings the course of Anglo-Indian relationships during the era of the Raj, but this book transports the reader through some very troubled times, without it being a didactic experience. Knowledge and information are disseminated as the
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Rishi Prakash
Feb 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The author has very well placed the story from the darkest days of the British Raj through to the aftermath of the First World War by showing us the world from the eyes of three different characters of three different generation which is unique and really interesting. She has managed to put the story of three generations and their struggles to understand and free themselves from a troubled history steeped in colonial violence and issues which India had under British Raj.

Absolutely wonderful and
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Abbie Sage
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
everyone should read this book that’s it that’s the post
Riddhi
Aug 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
At times, this novel felt a bit Kipling-esque, but I think the epistolary format was used really well to tie the Langdon family history together. It was interesting that their narratives were embedded against a backdrop of events in Indian history during British rule, which had a clear impact on the characters’ own actions. Especially, it was significant that Jagjit’s own disenfranchisement with Britain was developed after he served in the War, only to be discriminated as an Indian soldier, and ...more
Laeba Haider | Readgret
Feb 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5
"𝑯𝒆 𝒑𝒖𝒏𝒊𝒔𝒉𝒆𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒄𝒉𝒊𝒍𝒅𝒓𝒆𝒏 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒊𝒓 𝒄𝒉𝒊𝒍𝒅𝒓𝒆𝒏 𝒇𝒐𝒓 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒔𝒊𝒏𝒈𝒔 𝒐𝒇 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒑𝒂𝒓𝒆𝒏𝒕𝒔 𝒕𝒐 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒓𝒅 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒇𝒐𝒖𝒓𝒕𝒉 𝒈𝒆𝒏𝒆𝒓𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏." The story takes you through the lives of three different characters of three different generations - Cecily, her son Henry, and his daughter Lila. 🍂

It is written parts in the form of letters Cecily wrote to her sister in Sussex, the diary Henry keeps as instructed by his tutor and the life accounts of Lila as she goes through it. 🍃

Other than Cecily and Henry's stories and
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Ke*
Aug 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-2020
One of the most beautifully woven historical fiction stories I've read. ❤️ ...more
Claire (Silver Linings and Pages)
Belonging is an ambitious and beautifully written story that weaves together strands of three generations in India and Britain, from the days of the British Raj to after World War One. trauma, secrets and betrayal are uncovered as the characters wrestle with their past to make sense of their heritage and identities. It’s an epic story, brimming with emotion, as it delves into (my favourite!) themes of self-discovery, memory, loss, unfulfilled love and connection. Belonging also sensitively expos ...more
Barbara
Aug 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Umi Sinha's book 'Belonging' is initially rather confusing and I will admit that when I was about 15% of the way through (good old Kindle progress monitoring), I realised I was getting totally confused and went back to the first 'page' and started over. The book gives three separate narratives which gradually weave together as the book progresses.

For anybody with any knowledge of the history of the British in India, the dates associated with the epistolary tale of young, innocent and enthusiast
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Linda Mac
Aug 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is my favourite book of 2015. I was lucky enough to get an advance copy and have just finished reading it. I don't want to say too much about the plot, as I'd hate to deprive other readers of the pleasure of discovery.

The story unfolds through three different strands and each of the narrative voices is engaging and distinctive. The characters were well-rounded and three-dimensional and the plotting rich, bold and complex. The final chapters are almost unbearable to read, as the final traged
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Renita D'Silva
Aug 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Absolute perfection.
An exquisite masterpiece.
Ciea✨
May 16, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5*

Billions of lives in the world, some of them residing in a country called India. A history that is dripping with grief and bloodshed. We, the people of India who endured and once lived, are now either buried in its soil or at the bed of a river, in the form of ashes. We, the people of India, who are living in the present and seem to have forgotten of the trauma we unknowingly carry on our backs.

India was colonised by the British. Seems like a chapter in the NCERT history books that makes th
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Martha
A beautifully written, partly epistolary novel about how secrets perpetuate a cycle of loss and a search for belonging that travels down three generations of one family. Events unfold through the letters of Cecily to her sister Mina, the diaries of Cecily's son Henry, and the third-person perspective of Henry's daughter Lila.

Set against the backdrop of real-life conflict between India and Great Britain, Sinha uses her elegantly written story to show how concealing the truth does more damage than
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tejal
Aug 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
beautifully woven tale of three people from the same family: cecily, her son henry and her granddaughter lila all at different points in time.

it's mostly told in an epistolary format, something that the author does so well with each letter or diary entry being so engaging. it also highlights forgotten points in indian history such as the cawnpore massacre in cecily's time and contrasts it with lila in the first world war.

a brilliant, heartbreaking read!
...more
Shatterlings
Feb 20, 2019 rated it liked it
This was just so slow and the most important action seems to occur off page but saying that historical fiction isn’t my favourite. The jumpy nature of the narrative made it hard to connect to the characters and some of them just weren’t that likeable, also the marrying someone without really knowing them was a bit overdone in this book.
Aamna Mishra
Aug 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-reads
”𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘱𝘢𝘴𝘵 𝘪𝘴 𝘯𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳 𝘥𝘦𝘢𝘥. 𝘐𝘵 𝘪𝘴 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘯 𝘱𝘢𝘴𝘵” ~ 𝘞𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘪𝘢𝘮 𝘍𝘢𝘶𝘭𝘬𝘯𝘦𝘳

How do I praise a book that's so hard-hitting and highly underrated?

𝘉𝘦𝘭𝘰𝘯𝘨𝘪𝘯𝘨 is a slow-moving tale told by three generations of a British household in India and parts in Britain from the darkest days of British Raj through to the aftermath of World War I.

At first, it can get a little confusing but the author has added a family tree at the beginning of the book to understand who is related to whom. Further, I discovered secrets laye
...more
Reveangie
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A wonderfully poignant story. Story of hatred, resentment, love, regret, and sorrow. Umi Sinha skillfully painted two separate worlds. Grey, foggy England and vivid, red India. The story is really engaging, I really felt like walking through the dust and heat of Indian summer and English chilly moors next to Cecily, Henry, and Lila.
Shaz Goodwin
Aug 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
http://www.jerasjamboree.co.uk/2016/0...

Hooking the reader in from the beginning? Belonging certainly does that. I had so many questions about the opening scene in 1907 in Peshawar with Lila aged 12. It isn’t until much later in the story we find out the significance and I spent some time gathering my thoughts to make a whole.

I wanted to take away Lila’s pain as she travelled to England. I could feel her grief so sharply. Arriving in a place so totally alien to what she was used to. A sentence m
...more
Anushree Rastogi
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
would rate it six stars, if I could. historically accurate, gripping yet atmospheric, this is a fantastic debut novel.
Annie
Mar 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: text
This has been on my reading shelf for a very long time and turned out to be completely different to what I expected. I thought it was an Indian family saga, with probably a present-day storyline and one set much longer ago. And that's not too far from the truth. It has three timelines - Lila in the First World War, her father Henry in the 1860s and 1880s, and her grandmother Cecily in the 1850s. It is largely set in India, but the family is white and British, which surprised me given the author ...more
Cinita Nestiti
Feb 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Things I love from this book:
- The way the question at the beginning of the book answered at the very end. An exercise to my patience!
- The details in Cecilia's part
- The ending that reminds me (as a reader) that the characters' lives are not ended when the book ended. They lived just like we are!

Things in this book that keep me wondering:
- Why Lila never seem to miss her mother?
- It is hardly explained Lila's relationship with her mother in her earliest 12 years (which I think a crucial part of
...more
charis
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
I received this in a subscription box (Books that Matter, if you’re interested) and I am so glad as it’s not the type of book I’d ever pick up myself.
It taught me about a history I’d never even considered in an engaging way, and I loved the inter-generational storytelling - not just for the different perspectives but also for the narrative devices (letters/diaries/prose) each protagonist used. You can tell how much I loved it by how long this review is compared to my usually non-existent reviews
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Amber
Stunning, and even more remarkable as a debut novel. This a compelling story of 3 generations of family set against the backdrop of colonial India, juxtaposed with genteel Sussex in the run up and then the consequences of the first world war. It is in turns a thriller, a study of legacy and identity, a historical social narrative of culture clash and a, ultimately, a story of belonging. Recommended.
Allie
Sep 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful book - truly compelling narrative skilfully woven through the generations. Each voice is distinct and engaging and I found it impossible to put aside until I'd finished it. It addresses universal themes of identity, family and home but doesn't duck thorny issues of race, gender and violence. A wholly satisfying read. ...more
Michelle
Nov 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I won this book on a goodread giveaway and can only congratulate the author on their first novel.Loved It If I had seen the book on the bookshelves I must admit I would not have given it a second glance as it looks uninspiring but how wrong can I be.The book contains a lot of facts and history around the Raj era while including friendship love and loss Well worth a browse Many Thanks
Divya U
Oct 27, 2019 rated it liked it
It was quite a different story. Got a glimpse of the effects of all the major incidents and chaos brought by the British rule and World War. In its heart it was a story about three people who were related to each other not just by blood but by the trauma that they all went through. And sadly they succumbed to it.
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Umi Sinha was born in the military hospital in Mumbai (then Bombay) in 1952 to an English mother and Indian father, and grew up in India in the decade following Independence, when there was deeply held resentment against the British. She moved to Britain in 1968 during the backlash against the mass immigration of Asians who had been expelled from Uganda and Kenya. The experience of being an outsid ...more

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