K's Reviews > The House of Blue Mangoes

The House of Blue Mangoes by David Davidar
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's review
Jun 07, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: bookclub, southasia, historicalfiction

I suspect I might have felt as if I were skimming this book, even if I hadn't been skimming it in fact. The pace seemed rushed at times, and overall the story felt superficial. Maybe because it was. I'm not sure this was actually a story, to tell the truth. Certainly the characters were not characters. I think this was simply an excuse to depict colonial India from the late nineteenth century leading up to independence, and to have the characters serve as mouthpieces for various Indian and British viewpoints on the colonial experience.

The story begins with Solomon Dorai, the leader of his village, dealing with a tempest taking place. It continues with Solomon's sons, Daniel, a doctor, and Aaron, a drifter-turned revolutionary. The final part of the book focuses on Daniel's son, Kannan, and his complicated relationship with the British.

These multi-generational sagas have become a cliche of mediocre historical fiction, and this one was particularly poorly done in my opinion. I never came to empathize with the stick-figure characters or to care about the banal plotlines. The whole colonial situation in India and the varying perspectives on it was more interesting than anything else about the book, but I think I would have been better off reading a non-fiction treatise about it. If you like reading novels set in India, there are better ones out there.
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Reading Progress

June 7, 2012 – Started Reading
June 7, 2012 – Shelved
June 7, 2012 – Shelved as: bookclub
June 7, 2012 – Shelved as: southasia
June 12, 2012 – Shelved as: historicalfiction
June 12, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-15 of 15) (15 new)

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message 1: by M (new)

M Wow you're on top of things. Mine just came in the library and I feel like if I read it now I'll forget it by September.

message 2: by K (new) - rated it 2 stars

K I actually wouldn't be except I wanted to get and read my library copy before I leave for Israel. If I wait until I get back I might not have time. Unfortunately I'll probably forget the book by the time we meet but c'est la vie.

message 3: by M (new)

M Appropos of nothing, I am so thrilled for you that you are going to Israel but I will be VERY lonely and miss you and the fam a LOT. :(

message 4: by rivka (new)

rivka Must have been nice having her nearby this past almost-year, though. :)

message 5: by K (new) - rated it 2 stars

K Awwww.....It was nice for me too, Rivka, and it's mutual -- I'll miss you too Marg! We are very excited to go but we wish we could take all our loved ones with us.

message 6: by rivka (new)

rivka Too bad they've made the baggage limits so small. ;)

message 7: by K (new) - rated it 2 stars

K Yes. And the prices so high!

message 8: by rivka (new)

rivka Indeed. My parents took an extra suitcase when they left last week. But it was cheaper than having an overweight one!

message 9: by M (new)

M True, I did get the better end of the deal having y'all here almost all year - I guess I got spoiled! Well, I will keep you posted as to all the local gossip... (woohoo).

message 10: by K (new) - rated it 2 stars

K Wow -- how typical that taking an extra suitcase would be cheaper than having an overweight one. Yes, Marg, do keep me posted on our happening town. ;)

message 11: by SaraK (new)

SaraK I love it that Goodreads is FB for Khaya and Marg. Khaya, are you guys moving back?

message 12: by M (new)

M A girl gets her networking where she can...

message 13: by K (new) - rated it 2 stars

K Sara, I would love to move back today but so far our circumstances will not permit. I am coming for the summer though IY"H! Leaving this morning in fact.

message 14: by Jane (new)

Jane Khaya, you are so good at expressing what you don't like in a book. I am always so impressed with your reviews. Based on your description, this is exactly the kind of book I don't like to read. Thank you from saving me from another disappointng read!

message 15: by K (new) - rated it 2 stars

K Thank you so much, Jane! I really appreciate your kind words. For once, I think goodreads was in agreement with me on this one. The average rating was in the low threes.

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