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In the Convent of Little Flowers: Stories Paperback – 15 Sep 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press; Reprint edition (15 Sept. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416586105
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416586104
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.5 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 852,246 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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I do not usually read short stories, and ordered this book not realising it was not a novel. Started reading the book and found that I am really enjoying the stories within the books pages. Some are 'happy ever after type' and some are really sad, but all read like true stories. All the stories have something to give to the reader. I think this author is a grifted writer, stories are totally believable. I have read quite a few of her books have enjoyed everyone so far.
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Amazon.com: 20 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
In the Convent of Little Flowers Review 12 Jan. 2009
By Pooja D - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
"IN THE CONVENT of LITTLE FLOWERS" (Atria Books; ISBN: 978-1-4165-8609-8) is a compilation of impressively elegant short stories by Indu Sundaresan.
She skillfully with utmost confidence takes the reader on a journey to the ancient culture, the unique diversity of India- its age old traditional rituals while at the same time making the reader question them and ponder over their hold on its inhabitants. The readers are introduced to compelling array of characters that are unforgettable, each is a portrait painted adeptly and even with their flaws and complexities are treated with respect by the author. The characters are struggling under the weight of thousands of years of ingrained beliefs and teachings on class, caste and sexuality- as it challenges their today's modern view, hopes and dreams. Thus the foregoing conflict within themselves and for their place in the 21st century India which influenced by western modernity cannot totally accept the age old practices or let go of their sway on them.

All the nine stories in this collection explore the intricacies of relationships between friends, neighbors, sisters, husband-wife, grandparents and children-societal ties; their deep roots, their connections to past. It is interesting to note that the names of characters that people these pages are also taken from the Indian mythological legends with consequences in present day.

In "Shelter of Rain," Padma, the American raised Indian adoptee prepares to meet her guardian nun from the orphanage 'Convent of Little Flowers'. Indu's evocative prose effectively opens our hearts to the conflict going on in the protagonist's mind and heart.

"Three and Half Seconds" story about unforgettable characters of Meha and Chander. Meha during the evening of her life reflects on the devastating consequences of giving in to their child's every want and turning a blind eye to the early warning sign. This story may be the most disturbing as the reader can identify with the helplessness of society-neighbors bound by belief of non interference.

"Fire" is a powerful story of obsessive destructive love; the power of money and the name of tradition to silence all wrongdoings. Payal, makes the most difficult journey to her childhood home to confront these issues.

"The Key Club" is formed when the eight richest, powerful men of Chennai realize that there is something which their wealth cannot give them. Sundaresan cleverly weaves in the story the main character Ram's longing for his best friend's wife who was the college sweetheart he left as she was not up to his financial stature...was of lower class.

"Bedside Dreams" is a tale of heart break of a loving couple who are sent to the retirement home by their 12 sons. The narrator of this story Kamal's wife wonders if things would have been different if their eldest daughter had lived. Indu Sundaresan impressively drives home the point when the narrator says "We had fought, at one time, so long ago, for our country's freedom, but it simply hurt too much to fight for ours. That had been easier."

"The Most Unwanted" is a riveting story about a child born out of wedlock and his grandfather's agonizing dilemma.

"The Faithful Wife" depicts the most ghastly evil `the practice of sati' and examines the influence, authority of a ritual when a woman asks her journalist grandson to come to the village, to persuade his grandfather to stop the illegal outlawed practice of `Sati', where the community is about commit the horror...force a twelve year old widow to burn alive in name of the ancient tradition.

IN THE CONVENT of LITTLE FLOWER stories are mostly drawn from real events or as Indu says in her afterword, "Everything triggers a thought, some thinking and sometimes this develops into a story," She adorns them beautifully with her creative flair, her hauntingly lyrical style enthralls and the poetic prose moves the reader so much that one becomes part of the narrative. The reader is left pondering with some answered and some unanswerable questions.

I highly recommend this book to all and give thumbs up to this engaging collection of stories.

About the Author: Indu Sundaresan was born and raised in India, but immigrated to United States for graduate school. She is critically praised and popularly loved for her brilliant historical novels. She is the bestselling author of The Feast of Roses, The Splendor of Silence and the Twentieth wife (2003 Washington state award). The Splendor of Silence is the heartrending tale set during 1942...waning of British era. The Twentieth Wife and The Feast of Roses (sequel) are based on the life and power of Mughal empress Nur-Jahan.

Indu currently resides in Redmond, Washington.

By: Pooja Deshmukh
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
In the Convent of Little Flowers 5 Dec. 2008
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Indu Sunderesan's new book, "In the Convent of Little Flowers," is a collection of short stories set in a more contemporary time than her previous works. Set mostly in India, the stories touch on topics still somewhat taboo to mention or acknowledge in Indian society. The writing style is so vivid, it makes you feel as if you are a part of the story and you end up thinking about the events long after you have put the book away. I would recommend this book unreservedly and look forward to her next one.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
From S. Krishna's Books 16 Dec. 2008
By skrishna - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I am a huge fan of Indu Sundaresan's work. She has written three historical fiction novels; two are about Empress Nur Jahan (The Twentieth Wife and The Feast of Roses) and one is set in India during World War II and the Indian independence movement (The Splendor of Silence). All three are wonderfully written novels that any fan of historical fiction should pick up immediately.

When I heard that Ms. Sundaresan had a short story collection coming out, I eagerly sought the chance to obtain a review copy and was thrilled to receive one. I didn't know what to expect, but I knew that they would be amazing stories. And I was right; the stories are very different from her historical fiction work, but they evoke the same emotion within the reader.

The stories in In the Convent of Little Flowers are simply written and utterly beautiful. Some are very emotional; others are horrific (after reading the story about a son who is abusive to his mother and father, I called my own parents immediately, in tears). Each has its own quality that recommends itself to the reader. As such, there is not one bad story among them, not one lesser tale. That is quite a feat for an author, to write stories of such depth and magnitude that they are all equally moving.

All of the stories are about Indians. The majority of them are set in India, though not all. There are classic stories that people of any culture can relate to, stories about love lost between a husband and wife. But there are also stories that are appalling, that make the reader want to weep - the tale of bride burning is one of these. Each story has its own force that propels it forward. Not once did I want to put down the book, to move onto something else. Usually, I read other novels between the breaks in short stories. That wasn't the case with In the Convent of Little Flowers; I just wanted to continue with the stories, to see what Sundaresan would come up with next. With many of the stories, I wanted more. I would love to see some of them fleshed out as full novels, especially the tale of Padma and her feelings about the truth of her adoption.

I highly recommend all of Indu Sundaresan's work, and In the Convent of Little Flowers is no exception. It is a beautiful and moving set of short stories that I think anyone would enjoy.

Thank you to Ms. Sundaresan and her publicist for sending me a copy of this book to review.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A must read for novella fans! 30 Dec. 2008
By Sneha Jacob - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review Indu Sundaresan's new book In the Convent of Little Flowers. She writes her new book with the same prose and sincerity that I have come to attribute her with. I have been hooked from the time of The Twentieth Wife, one of her earlier novels, and was looking forward to her latest work, and Ms. Sundaresan delivers again!

In this wonderful collection of nine short stories we are introduced to a variety of modern-day and mythical characters that range from being inextricably entrenched in age-old Indian traditions and ancient beliefs, to the other extreme of nonconformist Indians. I found it interesting that Ms. Sundaresan drew from real life experiences and discussions in writing these stories. All authors are inspired by various means, but when the basis of a story has true life ties it makes for a more intriguing read.

First we meet an orphan, adopted by an American couple, who as an adult living in Seattle receives a letter from the nun that runs the orphanage revealing that she is her Aunt, and that her biological Mother lies dying surrounded by her husband and legitimate children. The story of four and half seconds unravels in a unique manner, and is by far my favourite; it is the poignant tale of an elderly couple who take desperate measures in dealing with the mistreatment of an ungrateful son. In the story of a sati, we feel the desperation of a man who attempts to stop the burning alive of a young widowed girl on the funeral pyre of her husband. Then there's the one of two married women with strong attractions toward one another, who are compelled to leave their respective marriages for a life together in a society that even today does not openly condone homosexuality. In keeping with the unorthodox theme is the tale of a swingers club, in which a group of married socialite couples agree to meet up regularly and swap partners for the night in a posh hotel.

With each story Ms. Sundaresan is able to engage her reader almost immediately and unfold an entirely different idea within a short span of pages. In some cases I was left wanting more.

This book comes highly recommended!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
From Sati to Swingers 20 Jan. 2010
By Ratna Dalal - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book contains nine short stories, mostly set in India. The good thing is that the stories are really short. So even if you don't like the content, you don't feel cheated of your time. I say this because last year I read and reviewed a book of short stories, that were outrageously long and lacked in substance.

A collection of short stories is like a C.D. of songs. You may like some, you may love some and some you may want to skip. What was refreshing to read in this book was the fact that each story deals with an issue and is set in a different class of society. The issues are: adopted child, cruelty towards aging parents, sati, inter-caste marriage, illegitimate child, social abandonement of aging parents, swingers etc. Talk about diversified tragedies!

Reading about 'sati' and a couple being set to fire just because they followed different religions and belonged to different castes, seemed a bit unreal and out of place in 2010. Out of nine stories four were good. The stories titled `Three and a half seconds' and `Bedside Dreams' were very moving as they take the reader inside the mind of aging parents who have given so much in life and expect nothing in return from their children. `The Key Club' was a revelation. It takes you into the world of the filthy rich, who can afford everything. The only thing they cannot afford they buy with their moral bankruptcy. By daytime they are rich and famous and at night they change names and clothes to become swingers. From sati to swingers the society has changed a lot in India.

Indu's narration has a haunting quality, that makes you want to turn the page. She writes little but conveys a lot through it. Her style has the old world charm where much is left to the imagination of the reader. With its unique mix of old and new, India is a fertile ground for writers. But instead of writing about all the social evils and injustices why don't writers tap into the positive energy and bring out what is good in contemporary India? As I finished reading this book, a dialogue from the movie 'Munnabhai' came to my mind:

Senior citizen: What will Gandhiji think of today's India?

Munnabhai: Gandhiji kahengey ki desh to apna ho gaya hai, lekin log paraye ho gaye hai. ( Gandhiji will say that the nation has become ours but the people have bacome strangers).

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