The Banyan tree in Lahaina, a town on the west side of Maui. The tree sits in what is commonly called Banyan Tree Park, next to the old courthouse building at the corner of Front and Canal Streets. It’s one of the largest banyans in the U.S., all one tree actually. As it grows, it puts down more roots from above that grow into more tree trunks and they all remain connected.
The tree was planted by Sheriff William Owen Smith in 1873 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first American Protestant mission in Lahaina, a gift from missionaries in India. The banyan is native to India, one of 60 types of fig trees to grow in the Hawaiian Islands.
It’s quite a sight to behold. And nearly impossible to get a picture of the entire tree because it covers such a large area and is almost 60 feet tall now… The photos are my own, taken a few years ago when we were in Maui with hubby’s brother and sister-in-law.
In THE GOLDEN SON Shilpi Somaya Gowda has penned an unforgettable story of family, love, tradition, and identity, in which two childhood friends—a young doctor and a newly married bride—must balance the expectations of culture and family with the desires of their own hearts. Available in the U.S. on Febuary 1, 2016.
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My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I was so pleased to be offered the chance to review an advance copy of this new book by Shilpi Somaya Gowda, author of the critically acclaimed Secret Daughter. Her second novel is a wonderfully compelling contemporary story of two childhood friends, Anil and Leena, from a small village in India, who grow up and grow apart as their lives take very different paths.
Studious Anil Patel is the oldest child in his family, the golden son, who, in trying to fulfill his father’s expectations, becomes a doctor and goes to the U.S. for a grueling residency at a Dallas, Texas hospital. The experience leaves him both exhilarated at the modern technology and the freedoms being in a foreign country allows and feeling guilty and bewildered about succumbing to the temptations of a first love.
Even when his father dies, he has to defy the rules to take enough time to go home for the funeral. While in India, he reluctantly assumes his late father’s role of an arbitrator for the villagers when problems arise. Anil also has the chance to see his childhood friend, Leena, and is shocked at what has transpired in her life.
Leena and Anil were close as children, but when it became unseemly for boys and girls to spend time together anymore, even as friends, they went their separate ways. Leena and her girlfriends dreamt of the day they would marry and have their own families. And before long, Leena is married to a husband chosen by her family. She moves into his family’s household and finds that all her hopes of love and romance and making a family with this man are dashed. Eventually she chooses a path that not only affects her but has repercussions for her entire family.
Over the ensuing years, Anil and Leena’s paths cross again as they are forced to try to reconcile the old ways and traditions of their village upbringing with the modern world around them. This is a beautifully written, bittersweet story that holds no real answers as to what is the right path for each, and reflects the difficulty of balancing the traditional culture of putting the needs of family first with the modern ways of making one’s own choices.
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SHILPI SOMAYA GOWDA’S debut novel Secret Daughter is a New York Times bestseller, selling more than 1 million copies since its release. Already published in Canada, THE GOLDEN SON (US publication February 1, 2016; ISBN 9780062391452; $26.99) has been a runaway best-seller, hitting all the major lists for five consecutive weeks, and spending two at the #1 slot on the Globe and Mail list. Set in India and the US, THE GOLDEN SON is a tale of friendship, coming of age, and traditional values versus modern freedoms—in a compelling and timely exploration of the struggles and triumphs of modern immigrants.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shilpi Somaya Gowda was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. Her fiction debut, Secret Daughter, was published in 2010 and became an international bestseller, translated into over 20 languages, and selling more than 1 million copies worldwide. Shilpi holds an MBA from Stanford University, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was a Morehead-Cain scholar. Shilpi is also a mom, and a pottery and chess enthusiast. She lives in California with her husband and children.
For more information please visit her on the web at: www.shilpigowda.com; Tweet her @ShilpiGowda; or look her up on Facebook at “Shilpi Somaya Gowda.”
“A stellar follow-up to Gowda’s excellent debut. Vivid, heart-warming, and absorbing, THE GOLDEN SON succeeds as an immigrant’s tale and love story wrapped into one because of the beautiful writing and compelling characters that illuminate universal truths of loss and identity.” — Heidi Durrow, New York Times-bestselling author of The Girl Who Fell From the Sky