I’ve been invited to take part in the blog tour of Ravinder Randhawa’s new novel, A Wicked Old Woman. The novel is the interwoven tales of a group of Indian and Anglo-Indian women living in London. It focuses on the struggle of each of the women to reconcile their Indian culture with their attempts to fit into life in their new country. The novel shows the difficulties raising children in a society worlds away from the one in which they grew up; it shows the racism and persecution they faced day in and day out, and it shows the effects trying to live within two cultures can have – especially in these women. I feel like it was an important story to tell. Not just for Indians or any people that find themselves out of their world and resented for it but for all women. It is a story about coming together and supporting each other to hopefully make the world a little better for each other and, hopefully, each other.
One of the things I enjoyed about A Wicked Old Woman was learning about the Indian culture and how it mixed with the English culture. I think I’ve mentioned before how much I enjoy learning about other cultures through reading and I’ll admit I have not read much about India. I also enjoyed Randhawa’s unique imagery. There are, of course, the obvious images of food full of aromatic spices and bright, beautiful fabrics we associate with Indian culture but Randhawa also brings to life the harsher details of life like the remains of a burnt out house, the feel of second-hand clothes, or the ache of eyes left open too long. My favorite image though is the one repeated throughout the book – “Stick-leg-shuffle-leg-shuffle” – the sound of a wicked old woman using a walking stick. Such a unique and perfect way of describing that sound and bringing the image to mind.