A story of two couples and the sometimes dangerous and heartbreaking challenges of love across a cultural divide.
Indian American journalist Smita has returned to India to cover a story, but reluctantly: long ago she and her family left the country with no intention of ever coming back. As she follows the case of Meena – a Hindu woman attacked by members of her own village and her own family for marrying a Muslim man – Smita comes face to face with a society where tradition carries more weight than one’s own heart, and a story that threatens to unearth the painful secrets of Smita’s own past.
While Meena’s fate hangs in the balance, Smita tries in every way she can to right the scales. She also finds herself increasingly drawn to Mohan, an Indian man she meets while on assignment. But the dual love stories of Honor are as different as the cultures of Meena and Smita themselves: Smita realizes she has the freedom to enter into a casual affair, knowing she can decide later how much it means to her.
In this tender and evocative novel about love, hope, familial devotion, betrayal and sacrifice, Thrity Umrigar shows us two courageous women trying to navigate how to be true to their homelands and themselves at the same time.
About The Author
Thrity Umrigar is the bestselling author of The Space Between Us, which was a finalist for the PEN/Beyond Margins Award, as well as six other novels, a memoir, and three picture books. Her books have been translated into several languages and published in over fifteen countries. She is the winner of a Lambda Literary Award and the Seth Rosenberg Prize and is a Distinguished Professor of English at Case Western Reserve University.
Firstly, thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for organising this tour with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Honor is a drama focusing on two women who lead very different lives, which explores the cultural and religious divides in India and the impact this has on their lives.
I love to read novels which are set in different countries and cultures and Honor offered a brilliant insight into the cultural divides in India, between the religions of Islam and Hinduism, but also between life in rural communities versus the big city, between rich and poor. For me, Honor opened the door to India and has increased my interest in the country and its diverse culture and I’m keen to learn more about it. I do think that the book tackled these challenges well and with some nuance, although in just over 300 pages it is hard to really get to the nitty gritty of such a complex issue.
I thought the characters in the book, particularly Smita, Meena and Mohan was really well-rounded and I was completely engrossed in their fate. I was absolutely heartbroken for Meena and her storyline, particularly the events that happened toward the end of the novel and I’m glad that there wasn’t a particularly happy ending there as it would have felt contrite.
I’m a bit conflicted about how much I enjoyed the ending of the book, particularly the final chapters. I’m not a fan of a romance sub-plot as they feel a bit too “neat” sometimes, particularly in a novel which is treating such a challenging subject. Nonetheless, I did find myself rooting for the characters and feeling a little fuzzy at the end, which balanced out the trauma explored in earlier parts of the novel.
If you enjoy contemporary novels which explore cultural issues, I’d definitely recommend Honor to you!
A Reese Witherspoon book club pick
‘A powerful, important, unforgettable book’ Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild
Honor by Thrity Umigar
Swift Press, 16 June 2022, £14.99 hardback, ISBN 978-1800751606
“Propulsive . . . Umrigar offers readers a broad understanding of the complicated issues at play in contemporary India.” —Publishers Weekly
‘In the way A Thousand Splendid Suns told of Afghanistan’s women, Thrity Umrigar tells a story of India with the intimacy of one who knows the many facets of a land both modern and ancient, awash in contradictions, permeated by a smoldering mix of ageless traditions and new ideas’ – Lisa Wingate, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours
‘Honor is a novel of profound depths-cultural, personal, romantic, spiritual. It’s also a story of tremendous grace, both in the understanding it shows its characters and in the ways they navigate a brutal but stunning life’ – Rebecca Makkai, Pulitzer Prize finalist for The Great Believers