It took me a couple of chapters to get into this book but I am so glad I persevered with it because it turned out to be a fantastic read and one I would recommend to anyone.
At the start I felt the story was moving too quickly because important parts of the story seemed to be "glossed over" slightly but I soon realised that those elements of the story were really just setting the scene for the main event, so to speak, although it did mean that it took me a little longer to warm to the main character Manasa.
The main action of the book takes part in a Calcutta brothel and describes what a harsh lifestyle the working girls have there. Some of the events are really quite upsetting, the author pulls no punches and certainly does not glamourise the life of a prostitute in any way whatsoever.
The prose is beautiful, at times you are totally transported to Calcutta and can almost smell the spices and other fragrances of the market. The characters, on the whole, are very well thought out, maybe a touch stereotypical here and there, but good enough for you to either like or dislike each one. The only character that did irritate me at all was in fact Manasa who did some pretty stupid things early on in the book which were quite key to the plot, but who never actually questions her own behaviour until right at the end of the book. Even though she has a good heart and means well most of the time, some times she can be a total idiot and some of the other characters do have a tendency to sometimes just go along with whatever she wants. In her defence, when things go wrong for her, or people don't do what she would like, she doesn't spend time wallowing in self pity,she just shrugs it off, makes the most of a bad job and carries on as best she can.
The plot is well thought out and moves at a good pace, you never get bored with the action although it is not an easy read by any means. I look forward to reading more from the author.