I received Joyoti: A gripping saga of loyalty, love, and sacrifice by Sunanda Chatterjee as a review copy from Booksprout and am thankful to them for the same.
“Find your father.” That was her mother’s dying wish. Despite her grief, twenty-two-year-old Maya sets out on a quest that takes her from sunny California to the busy, smoggy streets of Kolkata, India, to unfold events that took place six decades ago.
In 1940s pre-independent India, Chandana is a scrappy teenager brought up by the kindness of her relatives. Amid a country dominated by foreign rule and a budding revolution, she must abandon the simple pleasures of childhood with her best friend Saira, picking up odd jobs to supplement her family’s meager income.
Courageous and driven, Joyoti cares only about two things: food for her family and freedom for her country. Spying on the British Commandant while working as a hostess allows her to fulfill both her needs. But the famine ravaging Bengal and her ill-fated attraction to a British Captain force her to walk a dangerous path.
Spanning 1940s India and 2000s California, Joyoti is a saga about three headstrong women whose lives intertwine through loyalty, love, and sacrifice.
Chandana Biswas, a five year old motherless child is handed over by her father to her grandparents and aunt because her stepmother does not want her around. So Joyoti, her aunt, who is ten years older, takes her as her younger sister, protects her. And Chandana is happy with her Joyoti di. She has a friend Saira Baig, who looks a lot like her, studies in the same school and class and whose mother is like a mother to her.
Joyoti is also involved in the freedom struggle activities and even resorts to spying for her country. She supports her family through her jobs and protects Chandana from everyone. Chandana and Saira also try to support their family’s incomes.
And then comes the Bengal Famine and also the struggle for independence intensifies.
Maya lives in California with her mother, and they are best friends. She does not know her father but then as her mother is dying she asks her to find her father.
And that opens a Pandora’s Box…..
Three women. Two timelines. Two cities. Two countries. Two stories. And where do they meet?
This story is about love, trust, friendship, understanding, patriotism, sacrifice and so much more. The story moves back and forth between 1940s, Calcutta, India, pre-independence and 2000s in California. Though the story moves back and forth between the past and the present, not once was I lost.
The story has been written in first person from the point of view of three main characters, all of them women, Joyoti, Chandana and Maya, all of them very strong.
Chandana, a little motherless girl, whose father leaves her when she is five with her aunt and her grandparents; Joyoti, who takes care of her, protects her even if it she has to sacrifice and Maya, who travels across the world, just to fulfil a promise she made to her dying mother.
The author has portrayed the characters beautifully and even the supporting characters have been given important roles, be it Chandana’s friend, Saira’s family or Maya’s friends.
The immense research that has gone into the book is visible in how the author has created the setting of the pre-independent India and also the changes sixty years later. The freedom struggle, the atrocities people faced and the Bengal Famine have been described in great detail.
A must, must read with a warning to keep a tissue box handy and time on hand as this book is unputdownable.
DISCLAIMER: I received a free e-book from Booksprout in exchange for an honest review. I have not received any monetary compensation for the same.