“No matter what, love doesn’t die with death.” – Shilpa Raj
This week I was able to get my hands on The Elephant Chaser’s Daughter by Shilpa Raj which is a memoir of this young woman’s experiences as she and her family was forced to face the wrath of society’s disease called ‘untouchability’ and fate’s destiny called ‘poverty’.
Let us get into the review, shall we?
Saved by her grandmother from being killed at birth for having been born a female, Shilpa’s life took many unexpected turns and twists through her early years. She faced abandonment by her mother, the formidable constraints placed on her by her family, and the barbs of village elders bound by hundreds of years of oppressive practices and customs that subjugate women. Shilpa is torn between the contrasting lives she leads: one of servitude and injustice experienced by her family; the other of opportunity and empowerment offered by a good education in a school started by a philanthropist.
Just when all seems settled, an unforeseen death under mysterious circumstances shatters whatever stability remains in her life. Pulled in opposite directions, and torn between despair and dreams, Shilpa finally makes a choice for her future. Is she strong enough to stand up to the people she loves, and pursue what she wants?
At its heart The Elephant Chaser’s Daughter is about hope, when all seems lost. Written with raw honesty and grit, this is a deeply moving memoir of a young girl confronting her ‘untouchable’ status in a caste-based society, and her aspirations for modernity.
The title is beautiful and it aptly describes what the memoir is about. Shilpa’s narrative is shown to readers through her eyes but the title has a sweet connection to her roots. I found it beautiful for her to fearlessly tag herself as an Elephant Chaser’s Daughter and proudly show her history to the world.
Title Rating – 4.5 / 5
The cover of the memoir is that of a young girl amidst a village background. Her face is unseen from the sun’s rays. The cover is serene, picturesque and has a melancholic feel to it. I love the way it fills me with peace but also how it gives a peek into what the narrative is all about. It’s apt with regards to the title and to the storyline. I loved it.
Cover Rating – 5 / 5
“As years passed, I often found myself feeling guilt-stricken at how I came to have so much compared to my family.” – Shilpa Raj
As I read through the pages of the memoir, I found myself getting increasingly absorbed into Shilpa’s tale. She tells her story beautifully through the first person narrative and that adds to the connection that the reader builds with her. The tale talks about her entire family, the troubles they went through and the hardships they had to face to get to the stage they are at today.
“The word ‘plane’ made everything seem so distant…” – Shilpa Raj
The language is fluent and simple to understand. It has a wonderful flow to it which makes it all the more appealing. I love the way the paragraphs are split as that helps the story flit from past to present which is how it is written. My favourite part was that about her sister which was told beautifully.
“I was anxious to see my mother, and nothing else could be more important.” – Shilpa Raj
There isn’t a systematic flow to the tale which is very engaging and, for me, one of the highlights of the novel. I feel like the entire story became double the times more interesting because of the timelines interchanging and Shilpa’s history mingling with her present. What makes it even better is that there is no confusion despite the form of this narrative which shows the author’s skill of story telling.
Plot Rating – 5 / 5
- The fluency in the writing
- The diverse timelines the tale travels through
- The author’s ability to tell her story without creating confusion in the reader’s mind
More conversations! That is my only suggestion / critical aspect about the book.
Overall Rating: 5 / 5
Verdict: Worth Every Penny!
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