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Ratings and Reviews (3 3 star ratings
3 reviews
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    A Compelling Tale of Modern India

    The author has opened a window onto a world that is far from my everyday experience, but I was with her every step of the journey as I explored the dynamics of another culture and belief system. This incredibly moving tale unfolds in present-day India, a country to which the author, Madhu Bazaz Wangu, has strong ties. Kumud is the woman director of a girl’s orphanage in Mumbai. She’s dedicated to elevating women’s social status by educating her young charges and giving them a sense of community and self-worth. A phone call from the village which Kumud fled years before now calls her back home to try to stop a terrible injustice. A sixteen-year-old wife whose husband is dying has declared she will commit suttee. In other words, follow village tradition and join her husband’s body on the funeral pyre. Kumud may be the only one who can change the young woman’s mind. The author has crafted a novel of great power and beauty and I applaud the rich characterizations which she has provided of Indian peoples of all castes and genders. You feel a certain sympathy for the uneducated residents of Kumud’s ancestral village which remains isolated from the larger world, clinging to ancient traditions as the only way of coping with what is to them, incomprehensible societal change. This is a novel of healing and love and people stepping outside of their comfort zone. I highly recommend this book and applaud the author for her fine achievement.
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    Positive social change

    This is a story of a woman (Kumud) who ventures back to her home village in India to save a young wife from suttee—the horrific (and out-lawed) religious tradition of burning a wife on the funeral pyre of her husband. But the book is really about the need for and ways to effect change to out-moded traditions that are dangerous to women and society as a whole. What woman among us doesn’t immediately resonate to varying degrees with the protagonist’s remark that “... a woman faces elimination at every stage of her life.” In deed, What other suppressed groups in today’s world don’t see this as a parallel to their own experiences? This story does not discredit religion (Kumud has her own personal religious experience) but cautions her community (and us all) to be honest about our motives and not shrink from finding better solutions to problems. Read this book to sharpen your awareness and to understand the tools for positive change. Because, as a wise character in this book points out “When…fear remains unexamined, it turns to hatred."
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    a book that you can't put down

    The Last Suttee gripped me from the first page. From then on it did not let go. Not only is it a book that you can't put down, but it also has a powerful message, dealing with ancient Indian rituals. The images, though strong, convey these practices which have been recently outlawed in a sense that makes you think how these customs came to be. Through the novel's protgonist, Kumud, a voice is created that stands not only against the barbaric ritual, but also resonates to our time in each woman's struggle.
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