BOSOM OF THE FAMILY by Evelyn Harter
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An old, old story--romance doomed by caste circumstances--in a delicate, fine-grained retelling. V.V. Mohan, a sensitive young Brahmin from India, is a grad-student in America--homesick, out-of-place, dreading an upcoming New Year's party (he has promised to play raga). But among the party guests he meets Meera, a compatriot in a blue and gold sari, and ""he felt himself melting into a puddle of ghee at her feet."" Expatriate bliss? Not quite. Because Meera, Mohan learns, is in fact a Christian, undoubtedly a former untouchable! Soon, then, Mohan is pondering the pros and cons of maintaining the pure Brahmin traditions; Meera, meanwhile, shows her contempt for such elitism (she's disturbingly, excitingly rough-edged). Nonetheless, their mutual attraction grows--tentatively, then abruptly--as Mohan finds his world opening up: the miracles of a computer-society; the simple pleasures of weather and travel. So Mohan, returning to India, is full of conflicts, especially since (as eldest son) he must start dealing with family problems: the decline of frail, elderly Uncle; the unnerving hostility of Mohan's mother; the criminal doings of brother Raj--which quickly drain the family of nearly all its assets. Furthermore, the only way for Mohan to restore prosperity (and pay for more US education) seems to be by marrying a rich Brahmin heiress--a scheme which goes awry when Mohan displays his private misery in public. And though Mohan and Meera will reunite for a time in America (while the Indian household undergoes unpleasant economies), their desperate love and their dreams--of a life together (married or not), of devoting their working energies to serving Mother India--are doomed: Mohan will ultimately accept his destiny as family head, husband, and father-to-be. . . while Meera ends up crippled in both mind and body. Complete with a sly twist at the very end: an old-fashioned love story, flecked with the comedy of US/India contrasts--intriguing in its bicultural background, but universal in its poignant delights and star-crossed torments.

Pub Date: May 8th, 1985
Publisher: St. Martin's