Song of the Flame Tree

Song of the Flame Tree❰PDF / Epub❯ ★ Song of the Flame Tree Author Shona Patel – READERS PLEASE NOTEThe title and cover of this book has been changed to FLAME TREE ROADFrom the acclaimed author of Teatime for the Firefly comes the story of a man with dreams of changing the world w READERS PLEASE NOTEThe title and cover of this the Flame PDF ↠ book has been changed to FLAME TREE ROADFrom the acclaimed author of Teatime for the Firefly comes the story of a man with dreams of changing the world who finds himself changed by loves India In a tiny village where society is ruled by a caste system and women are defined solely by marriage young Biren Roy dreams of forging a new destiny When his mother suffers the fate of widowhood–shunned by her loved ones and Song of Kindle - forced to live in solitary penance–Biren devotes his life to affecting change Biren's passionate spirit blossoms as wildly as the blazing flame trees of his homeland With a law degree he goes to work for the government to pioneer academic euality for girls But in a place governed by age old conventions progress comes at a price and soon Biren becomes a stranger among his own countrymen Just when his vision for the future begins to look hopeless he meets Maya the independent minded daughter of the Flame PDF Å of a local educator and his soul is reignited It is in her love that Biren finally finds his home and in her heart that he finds the hope for a new world. In her debut Tea Time for the Firefly Shona Patel touched on the plight of widows in India of the last century In the second Flame Tree Road she takes that topic a step further and makes their welfare the spur that motivates her protagonist Biren Roy to get a top notch British education and become a lawyer Early on Biren sees first hand what befalls those unfortunate women who become widowed and are cast aside particularly in the character of Charulata widowed at just thirteen how she loses her place and voice and is shunted to the outskirts of Indian society becoming almost a ghost His own mother when widowed can no longer visit her best friend can no longer eat with the family no longer cook for her sons or enjoy the same foods and is forced to live in a shed with little contact with her small sonsThe initial setting for Flame Tree Road is rural; villages teashops and waterways make up the locale where the first part of the story unfolds The flavor and pace are an immersion in 19th century rural India’s color and atmosphere We meet the men who ply the rivers and streams making their scant livings moving supplies and people—earthy locals Dadu Chickpea and Kanai who gather at teashops to smoke bidis and bemoan their lack of sons and the burden and expense of useless daughters“I have three daughters” grumbled Dadu “I had to sell my cow to get the last one married off Marrying off daughters will pick you clean like a crow to a fishbone”Patel lulls the reader with charming scenery and characters who are filled with good intent toward each other and which belie the violence and betrayals of the story’s endEducated first at Saint John’s Mission a Catholic school for boys Biren receives the broad education that separates him from the superstitions outdated beliefs and narrow expectations of his childhood country environment“There were twelve new students in Biren’s class aged eight to ten None of them had ever lived away from home and they all had the same look of terrified kittens abandoned under a bridge”“Back in the village he would never have had the opportunity to learn leatherwork carpentry or metallurgy as they were the occupations of the lower castes”“Performing simple physical tasks gave him a powerful sense of joy that was no different really from singing a powerful hymn in church It would only be many years later after studying the Bhagawad Gita that Biren would learn that he had accidentally stumbled upon the spiritual principal of Karma yoga”Biren travels next to England to attend Cambridge where he hopes to “study law and effect change from the inside” There he meets Estelle a young woman pressing the barriers of female euality by wearing pants riding a bicycle and secretly attending lectures dressed as a man One of several great love stories embedded in the novel the depiction of the relationship that develops between these two characters is subtle and skillfully written on an emotionally honest levelBack in India Biren searches for and finds a job with the British government where he uickly learns he will be expected to be the middle man between the British and those he grew up knowing All this puts him at odds with the locals and leads to considerable stress and disillusionment The British are depicted as both benefactors and at times totally clueless as no doubt they often were in this ancient society with its invisible to them layers and incomprehensible customs This is done well with an even handed God’s eye view enabling the reader to see and sympathize with all sidesPatel administers an eye watering and subversive poke in the eye at blind adherence to religious form and traditional observance in the somewhat rushed ending It would have been interesting to see this developed further I suspect the publisher Mira a division of Harleuin of maybe being not much interested in seeing its authors take the time or word count to write about such issues a result of this current environment no doubt where commerce drives art Patel’s work displays both the insight and the skill to handle deep topics It’s a pity that authors of novels which are to be read by women are perhaps not encouraged to delve too deeply into important subjects and ironic as well given that the main theme of this one is women’s suffrage One has to ask why is an author like Khaled Hosseini who writes about his native Afghanistan and whose themes center on family given reviews by the likes of the Washington Post and The Guardian and granted years five to be specific to write his novels? His work is no or less important than Patel’s Could it be because he is a man? Do we take the writing of men seriously?The end of Flame Tree Road though rushed feeling was nevertheless interesting – there is some ambiguity about an important character’s demise one that left me wondering if a murder hadn’t been committed I would have liked to know about all these characters The end left me with uestionsBut that kind of echoes real life where tragedy and loss so often occur unexpectedly and like Biren Roy we are left with few explanations and nothing but the determination to pick ourselves up and continue onSteeped in history and told in a mix of narrative diary entries and correspondence Flame Tree Road covers the decades between 1871 and 1950 though most of the action takes place in the 19th century 393 pagesI highly recommend it to lovers of history India and good yarns India the caste system no rights for women except through marriage FLAME TREE ROAD addresses these issues that were prevalent in India during the 1800'sBiren Roy is the main character His father died at a young age and his mother like all Indian widows became an outcast once their husbands were gone Biren's mother's plight and the plight of all Indian widows gave Biren his drive to fight for euality for women in all respects not only marriageBiren warmed my heart because of his goodness and his passion to help the women of India Biren luckily was sent to an English school in India gained entrance to a college in London where he earned his law degree and then returned to India to achieve his goalWe follow Biren his family and his career throughout the book Biren married and the beauty and passion of his respect for his marriage and his wife oozed through the pages FLAME TREE ROAD is a book that will hold your interest because of the mesmerizing aspect of India and Biren's passion for helping the women of India Ms Patel's writing is beautiful with wonderful detail Her writing flows and takes you with itENJOY the depth of this book if you read it FLAME TREE ROAD is filled with passion love and pain and is a marvelous read even though it isn't always uplifting Ms Patel described the lives ineuality and caste system in India I found the customs and culture of India extremely interesting especially the marriage proposal procedure 45This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review What the heck It started out so goodbut that ending SO bizarre This book was so enjoyable til halfway or even almost two thirds of the way through and then it really goes downhill fast Multiple narrative mistakes and frankly a very unenjoyable ending for the main character his family Nitin becomes a completely irrelevant character; Estelle gets SO much screen time as a character but Maya in contrast gets hardly any emotional depth; and even the mother just fades and out of the storyline and her situation is never resolved I expected to be done for the widows by the end of the book since that was the driving motivation for the main character By the time he actually accomplishes anything builds the school for girls it gets hardly any treatment and then uickly gets passed from the MC into others' hands anyway as if it isn't the whole point and purpose of his lifeReally didn't like the author's choices of tragedy the death of Maya I understood but the rest with his daughter and in laws was too much I felt like this novel started out in one place and lost its footing halfway through; it reads as if someone else grabbed the book in unfinished form and tacked on their own ending to it Even in tone style and emotional depth it just isn't the same as it is in the beginning and what started out a strong story premise fails to deliver in its resolution 25 stars In an interview with Shona Patel she confesses to an almost excessive amount of researching before beginning her writing And this is obvious to the reader in all the big and small details of late 1800s and early 1900s India to be enjoyed in this book The flora and fauna the caste system with communities of fishermen weavers potters outcasts such as the water gypsies family dynamics the plight of Indian women especially widows the relationship of native Indians with the European colonists engagement and marriage customs burial rituals etc All this and is a stunning kaleidoscopic look at an ever fascinating countryAs the preuel to TEATIME FOR THE FIREFLY this story focuses on the early years of Biren Roy who was grandfather Dadamoshai in that book which takes place in 1940s India on a colonial British tea plantation of Assam just before India's independence from colonial rule So in FLAME TREE ROAD the story begins with the marriage of Biren's parents his birth in 1872 in Sylbet Bengal his family life disrupted by tragedy his years as a student both in Calcutta and in Cambridge England and his subseuent return to India with his law degreeThe strength of Patel's book is the lyrical ode to India The weakness of it IMO is Biren Roy Supposedly he chooses to study law because he is inspired by a desire to champion women especially widows who become nonentities to be shunned after the deaths of their husbands So we follow his years in England his friendship with a British suffragette there and interesting parallels are drawn to women's struggles even in England which should be considered the progressive of the two countriesBut then Biren returns home and well I don't see him doing all that much to promote women's causes Yes he wants to start up a school for Indian women but that is barely touched on And I see him doing nothing for widows' rights Not to mention that Biren himself is not IMO a particularly appealing protagonist Throughout his life I see him as too reserved too weak and much too passive Things happen to him He doesn't ever make things happenI also found the plot development towards the end to be too fast forward The years from 1904 to 1950 take up only the last 70 pages of a 396 page book which begins in 1871 That made things too sketchy too underdeveloped Perhaps it's because of this rapid movement of time that the author did not satisfactorily develop Biren's relationship with and care for his wife and his daughter And then all of a sudden on the last two pages of the book a character we haven't seen or heard from since the early 1900s shows up as an important part of Biren's life in 1950 What? How did that happen? There were no hints prior to those last pages Perhaps one needed to have read TEATIME to fill in the gaps here I haven't so I was left with a big uestion markBottom line India is a beautiful character here Biren Roy not so much See the full review at wwwluxuryreadingcomI was absolutely blown away by Shona Patel’s debut novel Teatime for the Firefly when I read it a few years ago and haven’t been able to forget her intelligent and independent heroine Layla Roy or Layla’s determination to chart her own life in an Indian culture based on strict traditions and expectations The author’s use of language and imagery completely transported me to the beautiful yet savage environment of the Assam tea plantations and brought a world to life that I had never seen before At the beginning of that novel we meet Layla’s kind and free thinking grandfather a man that raised Layla to be just as educated and self possessed as any man At a time when this way of thinking is nearly unheard of Biren Roy has become a well respected man known for his unwavering support of euality for the women of India especially involving education But how did he become this man? Flame Tree Road is Biren’s story of love heartache and a passion born from tragedy that is just as beautiful as its predecessorFlame Tree Road begins in a small village in 1870s India with Biren’s family living a relatively poor yet loving and happy life His parents have never been supporters of the country’s traditions that support cruel treatment and ineuality towards women and Biren grows up dreaming of a different world When his father dies and his mother is ostracized from everyone including her family and stripped from her position in society and her very humanity simply because she is a widow smart and sensitive Biren knows his purpose in life must be to change these antiuated customs and ensure that the women of India can have a life of their own and the education they deserve regardless of their caste their money or their marriage statusThe bulk of the novel deals with Biren’s journey to have his dream of euality and education for women realized This takes him to England where he becomes a lawyer and seeks to make changes within the British government that now rules over India then back to India where he works to make sure those changes can become a reality I hate to say it but I found Biren’s journey slow moving and at times tiresome As would be expected there are a lot of political and societal issues and delays that make this passion of Biren’s difficult to bring to fruition While this helps highlight for the reader the odd traditions and superstitions of old world India to our modern eyes at least after a while I became as frustrated as Biren clearly was at the obstacles that kept getting in his way The relationships he develops along the way take a backseat to this journey and felt somewhat lackluster until he falls in love with Maya the independent daughter of an Indian educator Biren works with to build a school for Indian girls and by the time that beautiful relationship comes to be it isn’t given enough time to really flourish Once Biren and Maya marry the story progresses at a rapid pace covering many years in a short amount of pages and for me wraps up too uickly On top of that I was saddened to see Biren’s life marked largely by tragedy as he lost so many of those he loved along the way I get the idea that for a person to appreciate the sweet they must experience the sour but it seemed like kind Biren got the short end of the stick thereAll of this isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy Flame Tree Road Shona Patel’s writing is amongst the most beautiful I have come across and her abilities to bring to life a brightly colored world of beauty against the ugliness of this time and place in history at least when it comes to the rights of women and an antiuated caste system is unmatched in my reading She perfectly shows how this free thinking man becomes stuck between two worlds – the old world beliefs of India and the advancements and changes of England – and I very much enjoyed seeing how Biren reconciled these two parts of his life together He is a remarkable character and I feel uite satisfied that Ms Patel gave fans of Teatime for the Firefly the history of one of the most enigmatic characters from that novelAt the end of the day I think Flame Tree Road is a very solid novel that just fell slightly short of my very high expectations given how much I loved its predecessor Regardless I am still a huge fan of Shona Patel and will continue to read whatever she writes Given her remarkably beautiful writing I don’t think anyone could go wrong in picking up her novels I loved Shona Patel's Flame Tree Road and recommend it without reservation The author gave me an ARC copy of the prepublished novel in return for an honest review I read and thoroughly enjoyed her first novel Teatime for the Firefly and was anxious to revisit some of her characters in Flame Tree Road The two novels are entirely different but eually compelling I find Shona's writing to be filled with vivid imagery and fully developed characters who matter and are essential to the development of the story Shona is a masterful storyteller who deftly weaves richly developed imagery and serious cultural social issues throughout her stories I find myself caring deeply for her characters and the issues that play havoc with their lives I've never traveled to India but Shona's writing takes me into a world which allows me to almost taste the foods smell the fragrances see the beauty of the flame trees and colorful saris and feel the pain of those who suffer greatly I have read many author's second books with high expectations because their first novels so impressed me I seriously doubt any reader of Flame Tree Road will find it to be less impressive than Teatime for the Firefly Each novel can stand on its own I will re read Teatime for the Firefly because I so enjoyed learning about Layla's grandfather Biren Roy in Flame Tree Road His backstory adds a new depth to Teatime and I now want to reconnect with him in his later years with LaylaTreat yourself to reading both books Flame Tree Road will be available the end of June I plan to attend her book launch opening on June 30th at Poison Pen in Scottsdale and I will wear red I was so in love with Layla's grandfather Dadamoshai from Teatime for the Firefly that I could not wait to read about his boyhood and early life in Flame Tree Road What a treat to return to Shona Patel's story world and watch these characters come alive again with such drama with so much heartWe get to see Dadamoshai aka Biren Roy in his formative years coping with the harsh realities of his life the fate of his parents and his determination to bring justice into his world particularly for womenAgainst the backdrop of the patriarchal society in both England and India Biren Roy's thoughtfulness and deep respect toward women is so refreshing His life is all about opening euality for women so difficult to do in that time and placeHis love for Maya is a sheer delight as is she herselfPatel reveals turn of the century India to us and it is remarkable to see She blends everything together so well strong characters rich details the culture and lore of the village people class struggle British influence and the impact all of this hadMostly I enjoyed watching this man interact with the women in his life and the way he grew from these experiences On top of that it was fun to meet many of the Teatime characters in their youth I am so looking forward to exploration of all these fascinating characters in future Shona Patel books This was a beautifully written story of Biren Roy's life Patel's writing truly paints a picture of a time and a place that seems both exotic and everyday Biren Roy is a sort of extraordinary ordinary man and it's easy to care about him He could be called the man who loves women but not in a womanizing sense largely due to his mother's early widowhood and the ensuing events he believes passionately in gender euality and strives toward that goal through education and bureaucracy I think Teatime for the Firefly was probably successful because the setting of Assam was so isolated whereas here she tries to cover the village life of what is now Bangladesh the busy world of Calcutta the life of the Indian students of Cambridge It's a lotThe same is true with the scope of the story which follows Biren from boyhood to old age While some events are described in detail others are bypassed completely or filled in with broad strokes In some cases that makes sense events in his mother and brother's lives in India while he's in England wouldn't be appropriate to relate firsthand However his wedding is summed up in a brief sentence along the lines of after five days of traditional Bengali celebrations I wanted to hear about these traditional Bengali celebrations Not to mention about the briefly explored relationship between the Hindu and Muslim communities And the inherent problems such as disease and flood that come with a riverside life And the logistics of the crematoria And what the greater effects of the British bureaucracy were And about a million other thingsBut for the most part I loved this leisurely story of a wonderful man I only wish that I had remembered before I got to the supplementary material that Biren was the main character's grandfather in Teamtime for the Firefly It makes me want to reread that one I bet I would enjoy it even this time My biggest complaint was that the last uarter of the book felt like it was on fast forward It took 300 pages for him to age from 8 to his early 30s and suddenly he was 50 and then 80 I guess some people would be bored with detail but I so enjoyed the early parts and so much happened to him in later life that could have been explored deeply particularly his relationship with his daughter A man who dedicates his life to improving women's lives and has a very troubled relationship with his daughter fiction gold Perhaps Patel will realize she needs to write another novel about the second half of Biren's life just as she realized she needed to write about Layla's grandfather's life after writing Teatime for the Firefly I'll hope This review was originally posted on Spun I don't usually read historical fiction but I borrowed Flame Tree Road from the library because I was intrigued by the premise As an Indian girl living abroad I don't know as much about Indian culture as I'd like to so I embraced this opportunity to learn a few things about India in 1870sI like the style in which the author addressed issues like the caste system and discrimination against women through the main character's perspective Although Biren's efforts to effect change are often thwarted sometimes the people he works with don't care enough about educating girls or there's resistance from the traditional he remains hopeful and doesn't allow the mammoth nature of the task to overwhelm him Biren is a very driven and passionate character After his mom becomes a widow she is treated as an outcast and this makes Biren realize that he wants to change things for the better for others like her Flame Tree Road follows Biren throughout his life so we watch as Biren is born and slowly grows older The author's writing style is lovely and I truly got swept away by the story All of the characters are incredibly vivid and uniue so I didn't find it difficult to keep track of them But I wish certain characters had time on the page – for example Chaya and YosefI also don't understand why this story is labeled as a love story because all the romance primarily occurs in the second half of the book In some ways that aspect of the book made it dull because of the long flowery passages from Biren's perspective He tends to obsess about the appearance of Maya and I didn't find that particularly interesting This second half of the book is also where Biren's focus shifts from effecting change to looking out for his loved ones This is where the conseuences eg not being able to spend time with family of Biren's single minded drive to establish schools for girls are further exploredWhile the ending was realistic I wanted to read about the results of Biren's hard work After all the build up I just wanted details WOULD I RECOMMEND IT? Yes despite its faults Flame Tree Road is a beautiful book If you're in the mood for a relatively slow paced book I'd definitely recommend it It's also worth noting that while most of the plot twists are unpredictable the overall plot of the book is uite similar to what is described in the blurb Therefore I think it would be better to read this book without knowing what to expect I was immediately drawn into the story because of the wonderful setting Bengal and the character of Shibani a young married woman with two adolescent boys and a devoted educated and hard working husband But the story uickly shifts to Biren Roy as the central character He is Shibani's oldest son and the novel follows him from a small Bengali village to Calcutta and then OxfordHis path in life becomes a metaphor for the ongoing struggle of women in the Indian culture The conseuences of a woman not conforming to her family's wishes or having the misfortune of becoming a widow are horrific and cruel Biren's goal is to elevate the status of Indian women through education and this becomes the guiding principle of his lifeMy one criticism is that the story sags a little in the second half suffering from too much of a good thing when Biren finally falls in loveBut Patel's writing style is soft and gentle It's a pleasure to read her descriptions of the country and the people She obviously knows from experience and imagination how to capture the essence of Bengal and Assam She makes it accessible for a western reader to appreciate the beauty of the place and the peopleI enjoyed her novel Teatime for Firefly and found that Flame Tree Road delivers the same satisfaction of reading wonderful prose and an intriguing story The bonus with Flame Tree Road is that Patel also completes the circle between the two novelsI received an advance copy in exchange for an honest review