Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Keeping Corner

As I have mentioned many times, I love historical fiction books. Keeping Corner by Kashmira Sheth is set in Ghandi-era India. Leela is twelve years old and already married when the novel begins. She is preparing to go and live with her husband and his family, when he suddenly and tragically dies. The death of her husband changes Leela's life forever. She must spend a year in mourning, keeping corner, not leaving her home. Even after that year is over she will forever be marked as a widow. Her head must be shaved, she can wear no jewelry and there is little for her to look forward to. However, times are changing in India. While Leela is from a small town, her brother is an adult and has moved to a city where he sees more modern ideas and begins to question the practices that have always been observed. It is his constant fighting for Leela to get to continue her education, to not be forever penalized for her husband's death that causes friction in their family, but ultimately causes Leela's family to reevaluate how things have always been done.

Sheth's own great aunt had been a child bride in India who was widowed and experienced keeping corner, shaving her head, and fought for her right to continue to live despite her widow status. This book provided a fascinating look at a time in history that I enjoy reading about, and about a topic I didn't have a great deal of knowledge of.

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