TO A NATIVE SHORE by Valerie Anand

TO A NATIVE SHORE

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Anand leaves 11th-century England--the setting of her intelligent historical novels--for a contemporary probe of a bi-cultural marriage: the dilemma of a wife unable to sever home-ties, reluctant to draw away forever from the emotional/cultural roots of her very identity. Melanie Singh fell in love with her future husband, doctor Avtar, when she was working as a fabric designer in London. But her native soil is the heather hill-country by the sea mists of Exmoor, where her beloved grandfather, incorrigible anthropologist William Purvis, still pursues his controversial theory: that all cultures and ideologies are merely programs presented as eternal truths, imposed on the young. And Melanie, now living in India with Avtar's family (whom she truly loves), ponders that subject--wondering whether tradition causes happiness or misery. Among the examples she observes: a young woman accepting a parent-approved suitor (instead of a beloved one); a delightful/oppressive wedding, heavy on ceremonies; and the woes of Avtar's English-assimilated cousin Rehal, whose love for a widow is doomed by family pressure. (""The entire weight of their history--the full pressure of this massive sub-continent of theirs, top heavy with over-population and tradition--all of this stood against what these two wanted."") Eventually, then, unable to create designs in the heat and dust, a depressed Melanie starts longing for home--especially when news of her grandfather's death arrives. After ugly confrontations with the obstinate Avtar, she does return--to cool rain, loved places and things and relatives. Through days of immersion in Home--when her love for Avtar seems fragile and far away--Melanie gradually discovers some domestic strains and stresses among her English relatives and, in a night of wild storms, some hallowed verities. Then, abruptly and cruelly, she stumbles across some ritualistic, unexpected nastiness. So finally, looking ahead to the future of the child she carries, she assesses her two homes: ""Both possessed deep roots, continuity. . . a sense of belonging to an ancient and ancestral place."" Sturdy if unexceptional fiction--with some wise recognitions and delicate cultural soundings.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1983
Publisher: Scribners