on 30 August 2003
I defy anyone not to be touched by this book. Shan evokes passion as she charts her unhappy life, crossing continents yet unable to shrug of the culltural mores.
Born into a family that expected a son, and a father intent on pursuing his sons interests rather than his daughters ambitions of being a doctor Shan evokes the feelings of being second best.
When Sharanjeet falls in love with a Muslim (she's a Sikh) her family firmly dismiss any chance of the two marrying. She details with poignancy the death threats made by her family and the physical abuse she endures at the hands of her disapproving father. The reader can not help but feel empathy for Shan's position and anger at the wretchedness of her fate.
Her life then moves continents and to a life in Buckinhamshire in England and an arranged marriage follows to a man she does not love. Despite the birth of her two boys Shan finds it difficult to adjust having suffered the twin loss of her ambitions to be a doctor and her first love. Her unhappiness is further exacabated by her husbands bad temper and violent outbursts. Her life becomes re-routed when a chance meeting offers her a chance to reflect upon her life and the direction that she wishes to take.
I have deliberatly left out the ending. I personally feel gratified to have travelled this journey with Shan and feel as if I have met this fascinating and fearless woman.
It's certainly a thought provoking book and one which every bloke and indeed Asian woman (I'm passing it over to the wife) should read, why?? because it gives us an insight into a patriachal society and how best to avoid the pattern and rules it enforces. Shan certainly made me challenge these and her autobiography is a blueprint to those who seek refuge and indeed inspiration.