Just finished. My thoughts on this memoir have been percolating for days now. At first, it was hard to keep reading. Ms. Samuel did not lead an easy life. Meaning, in a perfect world, someone would have intervened and saved her. There was no saving going on in her journey, other than the saving she did. The old saying, "change anything about your life and you won't end up where you are today," has a whole new meaning to me now. Rather, I'm not sure the axiom is true!
I'm happy. Not MGM musical happy, but happy in my life. Sure, I have struggles, fears, thwarted ambitions, but I wouldn't change one thing if it meant changing how my life turned out. The same can't be said for Ms. Samuel. Change any number of things about her life, and she would still have been controlled by the labyrinth of Indian tradition. The die seemed cast at her birth. Fascinating story, but in ways that made me feel helpless, because it's my nature to fix sadness, because sadness is a horrible place to be. (Probably why I write romance.)
When I put the book down for the last time, it occurred to me Ms. Samuel wasn't alone in her experience. Sure, her particular circumstances were her own, but those same restraints, those same vulnerabilities her culture forced on her, could have been the story of most women, distilled to its essence. Born a woman, your world is immediately carved a little smaller depending on where you're born. But smaller, nonetheless.
"A Fractured Life," is a deep dive memoir into a different world (India) through the eyes of a woman who survived, and became stronger than those who relentlessly told her she was weak. It could have ended differently. It could have been a tragedy, but Ms. Samuel made this story uplifting and life-affirming.
I wouldn't be honest, however, if I didn't admit that this book broke my heart, while it impressed the hell out of me. Written as if we were chatting over a cup of coffee, it was accessible, (and after the first hard chapter, where I spent the whole time grimacing, needing to intervene in a family situation that happened fifty years ago) it was enthralling.
Great job. Five stars. A must read.
Repped by Louise Fury at The Bent Agency.