Sonali Dev returns to the blog today with a new release, differing from others in this Bollywood series in that it is set in India, bringing a sense of a story being of a time and place. Please read on for my review of
A Distant Heart
A story that is told in two voices, both of which tell their side of the story in a mix of flashbacks to past and distant past events, using these voices and the concept of ‘love’ to explain, justify, share and provide pivot points on which the story moves forward, sideways and occasionally halting as the layers are uncovered. The cornerstone on which the story pivots is Kimi and her friend (only friend) Rahul – both from very different levels in society and both caught in the trap of love, loss and unspoken dreams.
Set in India, one has to understand that even in this day, the class system is fairly rigid – not only a function of birth and professions handed down over generations, but limited further by employment (or lack of), housing, and general financial stability. Rahul is from a family who lives a hardscrabble life – with his father working long and hard to become an officer in the police – steps up from constable. Kimi was born to Bollywood royalty – with money and privilege, a large mansion overlooking the sea, and an immune system that endangers her life and requires she live in isolation between medical treatments.
Both Kimi and Rahul have experienced loss and fear losing those they love even more. But both differ in their reactions: he closes off his feelings and emotions, she dives in with both feet, expecting that for this moment, things will be just wonderful. As her only friend, Rahul becomes a focal point for Kimi: he’s sharing moments of the ‘outside world’ with her, helping her with her homework, guiding her to protect her heart and self from the dangers that exist. While he tries to ‘educate’ her to the darker side of life – she challenges his control that won’t allow him to think of her as someone he needs or loves, since that always ends. And he believes that every step forward they make together – speaking, touching, daring to be close – are dangerous to her. But Kimi challenges his views of the world and his place in it – challenges him to take up the civil service exams and join the police.
Behind the major story of Kimi and Rahul’s relationship and the various ups and downs therein, the story brings us to the black market for organ donations, missing donors from the list, and the death of a young mother to be who was the first to see the connection between missing people on her donor database and people coming off the transplant list. The ringleader of this despicable business is in the hospital, in a coma, put there by Rahul – and he’s only waiting for the man to awake for questioning – as he needs answers about his friend’s death and the other people threatened and manipulated as part of the black market organization. But the strings and ties go deeper – from the missing undocumented to the doctor and a series of complicit medical personnel, threats and more death as others are lost, found and compromised, the corruption and back-alley dealings go deeper and further than anyone expected.
Dev created an intriguing story that takes a bit to adjust to as the points of view alternate in past, distant past and present form: readers have to take the story as it comes in bits and pieces and wait for them to fall into place to create the full picture. Underlying the entire story is the mystery and at its core – love. What is true love, and to what lengths would you go to for that love: and can you really (even with concerted effort) deny love when it is there. I’ll have to say that the ultimate antagonist in the story was clear to me early on, and it was his own cover-up and manipulations of situations and people that showed his determination and desperate need to achieve his own ends, no matter the cost. I still needed to read on and see if I was right, not to mention just how the revelations would affect Kimi, Rahul and their own relationship that has a repeated ‘testing’ theme – she demanding he leave and never return, then waiting for him to come back – nine times (they both count).
I love Dev’s writing – it brings a sense of the difference that is India while presenting the people and situations as one that is accessible and easy to visualize. From the colors and scents that are vibrant and slightly tangy to the integral human emotions of fear, love, anger and even desire that bring it all to light. Easily read on its own – this is the third in this loosely connected series that I’ve read – and each comes with moments that put me in the center of the place, with the emotions being easy to access and reach without difficulty.
Title: A Distant Heart
Author: Sonali Dev
Series: Bollywood #4
Genre: Contemporary Woman's Fiction, Family Saga, Mystery Elements, Romantic Elements, Setting: India
Published by: Kensington
Published on: 26 December, 2017
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Audio Length: 10 Hours: 35 minutes
Heat: Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound ♦ Book Depository ♦ Google ♦Audible
Her name means “miracle” in Sanskrit, and to her parents, that’s exactly what Kimaya is. The first baby to survive after several miscarriages, Kimi grows up in a mansion at the top of Mumbai’s Pali Hill, surrounded by love and privilege. But at eleven years old, she develops a rare illness that requires her to be confined to a germ-free ivory tower in her home, with only the Arabian Sea churning outside her window for company. . . . Until one person dares venture into her world.
Tasked at fourteen-years-old with supporting his family, Rahul Savant shows up to wash Kimi’s windows, and an unlikely friendship develops across the plastic curtain of her isolation room. As years pass, Rahul becomes Kimi’s eyes to the outside world—and she becomes his inspiration to better himself by enrolling in the police force. But when a life-saving heart transplant offers the chance of a real future, both must face all that ties them together and keeps them apart.
As Kimi anticipates a new life, Rahul struggles with loving someone he may yet lose. And when his investigation into a black market organ ring run by a sociopathic gang lord exposes dangerous secrets that cut too close to home, only Rahul's deep, abiding connection with Kimi can keep her safe—and reveal the true meaning of courage, loss, and second chances.
Infused with the rhythms of life in modern-day India, acclaimed author Sonali Dev’s candid, rewarding novel beautifully evokes all the complexities of the human heart.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.