Official Review: The Elephant Chaser's Daughter

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Official Review: The Elephant Chaser's Daughter

Post by lavellan » 10 Jun 2018, 13:42

[Following is an official review of "The Elephant Chaser's Daughter" by Shilpa Raj.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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The Elephant Chaser’s Daughter by Shilpa Raj is a memoir about the author’s life in India. The opening scene describes the anguish and shock that Shilpa feels when she discovers that her younger sister Kavya has committed suicide. The book then proceeds to tell the details of Shilpa’s life in chronological order to explain the events that led up to this tragedy. At a young age, Shilpa was recruited to be a student at Shanti Bhavan, a non-profit school, where she would receive a solid education. While this opened new opportunities for Shilpa, it also led to a strong divide between Shilpa and the culture she grew up in.

I was thoroughly impressed by Raj’s storytelling abilities. She was able to effortlessly express the emotions and motivations of her large cast. I also greatly enjoyed the realism of her characters. Raj did not shy away from describing her own flaws and those of her family. For example, Shilpa’s father, or Appa, was a complex individual. He struggled with alcoholism and continuously cheated on Shilpa’s mother. Despite his flaws, Appa was the one who recognized the value of Shilpa obtaining a good education and pushed her to try her best. I also enjoyed the dichotomy between Shilpa’s school and home life. Shilpa and her family lived in a village named Thattaguppe. Thattaguppe was deeply rooted in tradition. This served as a wedge between Shilpa and her family at times. One conflict that arose between Shilpa and her grandmother dealt with the expectation that Shilpa would marry her uncle. This completely went against the morals that Shilpa was learning at Shanti Bhavan. I found myself on the edge of my seat hoping that Shilpa would be able to stay true to herself while still maintaining a loving relationship with her family.

In terms of faults, there were only two issues I had with the book. I had some difficulties keeping up with the names of Shilpa’s family. Since her extended family lived in the same village and, at times, house as Shilpa, there were a lot of names to remember. Additionally, I felt that not enough time was spent on developing Kavya and Shilpa’s brother Francis. Even though one of the main purposes of the book was to explain the contrast between Shilpa and Kavya, Kavya never was highlighted enough where I could get a firm grasp on her character. This issue also was seen to a greater extent with Francis. However, this could have been intentional. Kavya and Francis were often pushed to the side by Shilpa’s family as they were the younger siblings. As only one child from each family could attend Shanti Bhavan, not as much value was placed on Kavya and Francis. Not devoting as much time to the two siblings could have been Raj’s way of demonstrating how they were forgotten by both herself and her family.

I only noted one error while reading The Elephant Chaser’s Daughter. This involved the use of litters instead of liters. The book was well edited and seemed as if it had underwent professional editing.

I rate The Elephant Chaser’s Daughter 4 out of 4 stars. The memoir artfully describes the struggles of the author and emphasizes the importance of education. The issues I noted were not serious enough to detract from my enjoyment of the novel. I would recommend this book to readers interested in India and the struggles the poor and women must face there. Suicide is discussed in detail within the book. Audiences who are sensitive to the subject may be disturbed by this.

The Elephant Chaser's Daughter
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Post by Lunastella » 12 Jun 2018, 06:53

Very complete review, thank you. This book sounds great! I enjoy memoirs and I like getting into the real struggles of different cultures, Indian, in this case. I can identify with the clash in Shilpa´s life between tradition and moving forward and I´m very much interested in the suicide topic.
I´ll be adding to my shelves.

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Post by Aanu John » 12 Jun 2018, 07:25

This is motivating enough. Nice one.

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Post by kandscreeley » 12 Jun 2018, 07:56

Wow! Your review is very compelling. It sounds like quite the story. I can't even imagine having a younger sister commit suicide. Thanks for the well-written review and great story.
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Post by SamSim » 12 Jun 2018, 08:26

I enjoy memoirs and this one sounds engaging. I have recently read a very saddening book about suicide and its ripple effects, so I'm interested to read about this woman's life in the wake of losing her sister. I think people in general really underestimate the value of their own life story. Great review!
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Post by KristyKhem » 12 Jun 2018, 10:10

Sounds like an excellent read! The story reminded me of the first book I read on this site - it was called Elastic Girl and was also an Indian story. That one also kept me on the edge of my seat. Thanks for your review, I will check out The Elephant Chaser's daughter sometime.

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Post by gen_g » 12 Jun 2018, 10:42

Thanks for the detailed review! This sounds like a fascinating read, as it discusses sensitive issues without shying away from it.

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Post by Ever_Reading » 12 Jun 2018, 13:15

Your review has me sold! But something tells me it would be best to have a box of tissues close by when I read this book. Good job!
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Post by Sahani Nimandra » 13 Jun 2018, 05:51

A typical indian story that reflects the deep root of culture and traditions in indian villages that exists till this day. It's certainly an eye opener to a lot people, and for anyone who is interested in learning cultural diversity. Thank you for sharing your review!
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Post by melissa_h » 14 Jun 2018, 06:27

Sounds like a fantastic read, with a brilliant review to go with it! Delving into different cultures and opening up characters is fascinating. Thank you for the review!

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Post by ParadoxicalWoman » 14 Jun 2018, 19:59

Another memoir to my ever increasing tbr list. Good review!
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Post by strawberrysab » 19 Jun 2018, 06:26

If the cover and title alone weren't enough to catch my attention immediately, your wonderful review convinced me that I will love this book. I'm adding it to my shelves! Thanks!
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Post by Nimat87 » 22 Jun 2018, 00:35

Thanks for the well-written review! This sounds like a very engaging read. I hope the book gave more insight into Kavya's suicide though.
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Post by Julie Green » 03 Jul 2018, 15:37

Nice review. I have read very few, if any, books set in India, so I will consider reading this one on the basis of this review. Thanks!

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Post by Ana-Maria-Diana » 08 Jul 2018, 01:42

The book is like a piece of India. The scenes and characters seem very real and that is what makes it beautiful.

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