Davidar follows three generations of Dorai men as they struggle to find their place in India as it morphs from a passive British colony to an independent state.
My Summary: At the turn of the twentieth century, Solomon Dorai, headman of the southern village of Chevathar, has made minor concessions to British rule and the modern world. But he finds it impossible to shed the traditions of the caste system and the emotions of family rivalries. Solomon wants nothing more than to keep the peace in his town and to pass his mango groves and social status onto one of his sons, but the boys are interested in the wider world. Aaron dreams of an independent India, and Daniel wants to be a doctor.
In a familiar karmic cycle of rebirth and death, each generation must establish itself anew, shedding the sins of those who came before while attempting to find the correct path to the future. Daniel's son, Kannan, grows up in especially turbulent times. Like all men of his generation, he is forced to place a bet: Who will control India, the British or the Indians? This choice will have lasting effects on Kannan and the Dorai family.
My Thoughts: Davidar, a native Indian, relegates politics to the background of the story. Instead, he focuses on the lives of Solomon, Daniel, and Kannan, none of whom is active in the independence movement. In this way, we learn how the events of twentieth-century India affected ordinary, somewhat well-off families.
Unfortunately, the pace of the book is variable. Solomon's story is well told and contains a fair amount of drama. Daniel is the most interesting of the men, but here the plot begins to drag. By part three, Kannan's story, it becomes easy to stop caring about the Dorais. Despite the tangents and slow pacing, The House of Blue Mangoes offers a fresh perspective on India's push to self-rule.
I listened to the novel on CD (obtained through interlibrary loan), read by Robert Whitfield. I am no expert on accents, but I was particularly impressed with Whitfield's ability to speak with an Indian accent that was believable and in no way a parody.
I read this book as part of a number of challenges (listed below). For more information about any of them and to see what other participants are reading, click on the name above the progress bar in the left margin.
Audio published by Blackstone, 2002
Challenges: Winter Reading, A-Z Author, Well-Seasoned Reader, New Authors, Support Your Library, 100+, Audiobooks, 999