17 May / The Heart Is a Shifting Sea by Elizabeth Flock [in Library Journal]
Journalist Elizabeth Flock’s intention to write about “the Indian love story” – “because it seemed more honest and vulnerable,” especially when compared to her parents’ multiple failed marriages – began in 2008 when she first lived in Mumbai. Although a spinal injury unexpectedly sent her back to the States, Flock returned in 2014 to finish the book – her first – she started about three couples she calls “romantics and rule breakers”: celestially misaligned Veer and Maya, who live separate lives together; childless Shahzad and Sabeena, haunted for decades by infertility; and online-matched Ashok and Parvati, who marry as near-strangers and grow to love each other.
While the majority of Sunil Malhotra’s narration is expectedly straightforward reportage of what’s on the page, Malhotra sprinkles the narrative with spot-on characterizations: a young woman’s shy agreement to marriage, a blustering father-in-law, a fortune-telling sage, an understanding doctor, and a sniping stepmother-in-law, among many others.
Verdict: Western readers intrigued by distant cultures will appreciate the novel-like exposition here; literary purists might bristle at the visitor’s white lens through which the most intimate details are revealed.