Monday, September 8, 2014

The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar

The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar

Two women meet once a week for an hour.  One woman, Lakshmi, tried to commit suicide, feeling desperate and hopeless as a woman confined in a loveless marriage.  The other woman, Maggie, is Lakshmi's therapist and treats her unconventionally, blurring the lines between professionalism and her personal life.    These two women forge a friendship based on one hour a week.

Maggie and Lakshmi's lives converge even as they travel different paths in life.  Lakshmi's is an immigrant from India and Maggie is an African American married to an Indian from Calcutta.  They have many things in common, both of their mother's died when they were teenagers.  Their families live far away and are out of their reach.  They have both done things they regret.  Told in alternating chapters, each woman's voice is heard loud and clear.

The Story Hour is such a good novel.  Umrigar has crafted a novel of friendship that blurs the lines of race and class.  The Story Hour is about love and marriage and forgiveness and transcendence.  It is a universal story that every reader will be able to relate to and I applaud the creative storyline.   Umrigar covers some tough stuff with the pages of The Story
Hour, like suicide, loneliness, immigration, race, class, abuse, death, grief and so much more.

This is the second novel I have read by Umrigar.  For me, this book is better than The Space Between Us.  I felt The Story Hour was compelling and interesting.  I liked the counselor, patient storyline and I liked that Lakshmi's story was told in broken English and Maggie's story reflected her conflict in treating Lakshmi unconventionally.  While the story is sad and hard to read at times, it is hopeful and ultimately an excellent novel that I will share and recommend to friends.

I will leave you with my favorite quote.
"That how you build me, Maggie.  Hour by hour. Story by story. Day by day.  That how you give me my whole lifes."  Pg 316.