Hi, friends! I hope you enjoyed our March book club selection: The Lowland. I thoroughly enjoyed this read. But as I mentioned when we announced this month's selection, I am a Jhumpa Lahiri fan. This is her fourth book and second novel. I've read all her books, and I was not at all disappointed by this one.
Before we jump into our discussion, I want to note, as always, this WILL LIKELY HAVE SPOILERS. So if you are not are quite finished reading, you might consider waiting to read this post until you are done.
I was talking to Trey about this book the other day. He was not reading along, but I still feel the need to discuss books with him, which is kind of a funny thing since I basically have to back up and tell him all about the plot and then dive into whatever point I'm trying to make. He's a much more patient listener than I am a storyteller. Anyway, I was telling him I felt like this novel centered so much more on the characters and story than it does the culture, politics, or religion of whatever part of the world it's based in (being based both in India and the United States, so it changes at times). That is one thing that Lahiri is so talented at. I absolutely love how I meet characters who are so different from me. Their world view has been shaped in a completely different way than mine due to our very different backgrounds/cultures. And yet, I don't feel disconnected from them. I feel like we are similar in many ways, that our differences are just our backgrounds, even though these facts shape the story. The politics of Subhash and Udayan's India greatly shaped their lives, shortening Udayan's significantly.
So, yeah. My hat's off (once again) to Jhumpa Lahiri. She's awesome.
Let's discuss! I'd love to hear your thoughts on any of the following (feel free to number your comment to correspond to the discussion point). Or you can talk about anything else that struck you about the book.
1. Udayan and Subhash are brothers and yet SO different. Their personalities and approaches to life really could not be more different. How does this affect their relationship to each other, to Gauri? How do these changes reflect in their relationship with their parents?
2. Although Subhash seeks to be more easygoing in life than Udayan and to be more obedient to his parents, he still has two very big rebellious moves he makes in life. First, he moves to America to continue his studies. He partly admits this is to take a step that he knows Udayan would not and thus distinguish himself from his brother. Also his marriage to Guari is against his parents' wishes, but he feels it's the right thing to do. What do you think about these decisions? Do they lead Subhash to a happy life?
3. What do you make of Subhash's brief relationship with Holly? Love? Just being lonely? A combination of the two?
4. To me, Gauri is a picture of feminism gone wrong, which is an oversimplification, of course. What do you make of her as a person, mother, wife, and—ultimately—a scholar?
5. What do you think of Bela's reaction to her parents' split? How do you think it shapes her future and what she chooses to do with her life?
Don't forget that next month we are reading Longbourn so pick up your copy ASAP if you haven't already. xo. Emma