My thanks to Harper Collins UK and NetGalley for a review copy of this one.
This is, as the title suggests, the story of the Shergill sisters—Rajini, Jezmeen, and Shirina, who while not quite at loggerheads have drifted apart with time. Each is dealing with their own life problems—Rajini’s son is about to opt out of college and marry a woman twice his age, Jezmeen’s career is going only one way—downwards, and Shirina’s marriage is not turning out quite as she thought it would be—and not really aware of what the others are going through. When their mother, Sita Kaur, dies, her last wish is that they travel to India, taking a pilgrimage of sorts that she couldn’t go on because of her illness—taking them from Delhi to Amritsar, to the Gurdwara Hemkund Sahib, up in the Himalayas. So of course, the three must take that journey together, one that their mother had planned out for them in detail in a letter she left. Sita Kaur didn’t merely want them to travel to the places she wanted, but more so to spend time with each other and learn to get along once again (or perhaps as they never did). Needless to say, it doesn’t go entirely to plan, but because of this, they begin to face their own problems and also grow closer once again, when dealing with issues of inequality, family, tradition, and modernity.
This was a mixed sort of read for me. On the one side, I liked reading the story/stories (their individual stories as well as of their relationship with each other) of the three sisters, their lives, and how they ultimately handle the problems in their lives (in which at times, circumstances and (happy) coincidences also have a role). Some simply require a change in perspective (acceptance), while others more serious, life-changing decisions. I liked how the author handled these aspects of the story, especially that it was done realistically, with no ‘magical’ changes and yet a bit of magic at work (if that makes any sense). The picture of the country however, I wasn’t too thrilled with—I mean the author highlights various issues that the country is dealing with no doubt, including inequality and women’s safety, but the picture she presented felt to me far too gloomy, as though there is only darkness, no light, and that to me was off-putting. There is the negative, but that doesn’t mean that there is no positive, no hope, either, which I felt the book didn’t reflect.
Three and a half stars!