AN INHERITANCE: The Memoirs of Dhanvanthi Rama Rau by Dhanvanthi Rams Rau
Kirkus Star

AN INHERITANCE: The Memoirs of Dhanvanthi Rama Rau

Email this review


These vital memoirs from the founder of India's Family Planning Association resemble Margaret Mead's Blackberry Winter--the same easy alliance of natural intelligence and inner equilibrium emerges. The sixth of twelve children, Dhan grew up in meager surroundings--her rebellious parents had defiantly left the ""joint family"" homestead--but her mother, a resourceful woman gradually discarding the burdens of tradition, allowed each daughter greater latitude, and Dhan, the fifth, benefited from her position. Her recollections, seen as India travels toward Independence, cover childhood experiences, marriage considerations, and the successive steps of an uncommonly active career--this despite diplomatic duties, motherhood, and few models. Her achievements, enormous by any standard, accumulate unobtrusively here while family life, interrupted by the usual scattered upsets, remains an ongoing source of satisfaction. Many scenes are memorable: Dhan as an adolescent, unwittingly copying a left-handed neighbor at her first knife-and-fork dinner; later, as a young mother, facing down an officer's uppity wife in a train compartment; observing Gandhi in London, dignified in loin cloth and sandals at a royal reception; cheering Nehru at a 1959 Planned Parenthood conference as he rushed to embrace the aging, ailing Margaret Sanger. In remarkably brisk, declarative sentences, a savory, gracious reminiscence.

Pub Date: Sept. 14th, 1977
Publisher: Harper & Row