Friday, July 15, 2011

Book Review: Climbing the Stairs

Padma Venkatraman offers yet another perspective on World War II in Climbing the Stairs— that of an Indian family whose lives are forever altered during the Indian struggle for independence.

Vidya is a 15-year-old girl who wants to further her education rather than following the traditional route of arranged marriage. Her mother is resistant but her father agrees that she should go to college. Before anything can be formally arranged, however, her father is permanently brain damaged during a riot. Vidya and her family must move into her grandfather's home, where they are treated little better than servants.

Ultimately Vidya's grandfather allows her a bit of freedom, and Vidya can occasionally escape the oppressive life of a woman in a strict Brahmin family. In some ways, this book reminded me of Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis. A strange comparison, I know, but the protagonists in the novels have such similar personalities and drives.

Climbing the Stairs ends satisfactorily, which I like. I highly recommend adding this to any World War 2 era reading list. You can see my WWII list here and visit War Through the Generations for many more.

(Thanks to S. Krishna's Books for the initial recommendation.)

1 comment:

Anna said...

I'll have to keep this book in mind. I haven't yet read anything about India during WWII, so I'm intrigued. Thanks for linking to the War Through the Generations book review page. I've added this review as well.