Book Review: The House of Hidden Mothers by Meera Syal

This book was recommended in Red Magazine months ago, and I downloaded it to my Kindle immediately (I love Meera Syal as an actress – and hadn’t realised she’d also written books) – but hadn’t got round to reading it.  I started it when we were away last week – and devoured it pretty quickly!

The House of Hidden Mothers

And here’s the Amazon blurb:


Shyama, aged forty-eight, has fallen for a younger man. They want a child together.

Meanwhile, in a rural village in India, young Mala, trapped in an oppressive marriage, dreams of escape.

When Shyama and Mala meet, they help each other realise their dreams. But will fate guarantee them both happiness?…

Brimming with warmth, wit and indignation, Meera Syal immerses us in a devastating story of friendship, family and the lengths we will go to have a perfect life. THE HOUSE OF HIDDEN MOTHERS is her long-awaited third novel and shows Meera Syal at the height of her literary powers”

Initially this seems to start out as 2 disconnected stories (particularly if you haven’t read the blurb first – sorry about that!). Shyama and her extended family live in East London – with Mala across in rural India.  I really liked the descriptions of Shyama and her folks in the UK – and have friends with Indian heritage – so a lot of it rang true.  Within a few chapters you can see how the stories are going to intertwine.

Shyama and her younger boyfriend Toby are keen to have a child – but have exhausted options in the UK – so are looking at surrogacy in India.

I sometimes got a bit frustrated with Shyama and wanted her to talk to her daughter Tara or her other half Toby properly – but otherwise I did like her and felt for her situation.

I think there was lot more cunning to Mala than was evident on the surface – she was very manipulative at times – but I like the fact this was a sub text and not spelt out in words of one syllable.

There was also a clever inclusion of some of the political issues currently facing India – and having had a friend work in Mumbai recently, I know just how accurate this was.

Perhaps having an interest in India made me enjoy this more – but I thought it was very well written and entertaining – and will actively seek out other books written by Meera Syal.





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