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Faint Promise of Rain: A Novel
     

Faint Promise of Rain: A Novel

4.9 9
by Anjali Mitter Duva
 

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Shortlisted for the 2016 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing

It is 1554 in the desert of Rajasthan, and a new Mughal emperor is expanding his territory. On a rare night of rain, a daughter, Adhira, is born to a family of Hindu temple dancers. Fearing a bleak future, her father—against his wife and sons’ protests—puts his faith in

Overview

Shortlisted for the 2016 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing

It is 1554 in the desert of Rajasthan, and a new Mughal emperor is expanding his territory. On a rare night of rain, a daughter, Adhira, is born to a family of Hindu temple dancers. Fearing a bleak future, her father—against his wife and sons’ protests—puts his faith in tradition and in his last child for each to save the other: he insists Adhira “marry” the temple deity and give herself to a wealthy patron. But after one terrible evening, she makes a bold choice that carries her family’s story and their dance to a startling new beginning. Told from the perspective of this exquisite dancer and filled with the sounds, sights and flavors of the Indian desert, Faint Promise of Rain is the story of a family and a girl caught between art, duty, and fear in a changing world.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A compelling story of loss and valor that takes readers on an unexpected journey to the secret world of temple dancers in ancient India.”

—Shona Patel, author of Teatime for the Firefly

“Powerful and beautiful, Anjali Mitter Duva’s Faint Promise of Rain deftly balances faith and passion, fear and hope, destiny and will. Duva’s expert eye takes us to 16th century India where dance calls forth the divine and unforgettable characters give us ‘memories of things to come.’ Past, present, and future all overlap in a perfect timeless story.”

—Marjan Kamali, author of Together Tea

Faint Promise of Rain gives an atmospheric, compassionate look into the hidden world of a temple dancer's family. Anjali Mitter Duva had me spellbound throughout this suspenseful coming of age novel that delivers a rich, satisfying ending.”

—Sujata Massey, author of The Sleeping Dictionary

Faint Promise of Rain is a gorgeous book, a story that is at once spare and lush, wrenching and restoring. The characters are so fully realized, so keenly nuanced, that they linger with you long after the last page, like the sweet smell of a recent storm.”

—Bret Anthony Johnston, author of Remember Me Like This and Director of Creative Writing at Harvard University

“First-time novelist Duva describes the sacred dances so vividly that the reader can almost hear the dancers' feet hitting the floor and the tinkling of ankle bells. Historical fiction readers with an interest in non-Western cultures will find much to treasure in this evocative journey to the Indian desert.”

Library Journal

Library Journal
10/15/2014
Set in 16th-century Rajasthan, Duva's story introduces us to the lives of a family of Hindu temple dancers. From the moment of his daughter's auspicious birth during long-awaited rains, Adhira's father dreams of her future as a devadasi, a consecrated temple dancer symbolically wed to the Hindu god Krishna. Happy to follow his wishes and begin her training, Adhira soon displays spiritual gifts and abilities that surpass even her father's high expectations. Her mother and siblings, however, are desperate to change her path before she reaches puberty and is expected to enter into a sexual relationship with a wealthy patron. VERDICT Though seemingly flawless protagonist Adhira comes across as a bit bland at times, her family members are portrayed with much more nuance and are each given a compelling narrative as they seek what's best for Adhira. First-time novelist Duva describes the sacred dances so vividly that the reader can almost hear the dancers' feet hitting the floor and the tinkling of ankle bells. Historical fiction readers with an interest in non-Western cultures will find much to treasure in this evocative journey to the Indian desert.—Mara Bandy, Champaign P.L., IL

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781938314971
Publisher:
She Writes Press
Publication date:
10/07/2014
Pages:
332
Sales rank:
456,581
Product dimensions:
8.40(w) x 5.40(h) x 0.80(d)

Related Subjects

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
“FAINT PROMISE OF RAIN is a gorgeous book, a story that is at once spare and lush, wrenching and restoring. The characters are so fully realized, so keenly nuanced, that they linger with you long after the last page, like the sweet smell of a recent storm.”
Bret Anthony Johnston, author of Remember Me Like This and Director of Creative Writing at Harvard University

Meet the Author

Anjali Mitter Duva is a writer who grew up in France and has family roots in Calcutta. She is a co-founder of Chhandika, an organization that teaches and presents India’s classical kathak dance. Anjali graduated from Brown University and completed her Master’s in city planning at MIT. She lives near Boston with her husband and two daughters. FAINT PROMISE OF RAIN is Anjali’s first novel. She is working on the second, set in 19th-century Lucknow.

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Faint Promise of Rain: A Novel 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
SKAF 30 days ago
What a wonderful first novel. I was able to transport myself to ancient India & imagine the scenes- the architecture, the dancing, the feel of the hot dry air. So many themes run through the novel & most apply to modern times: wanting the best for our children, wanting to please our families, wanting to change outdated rituals. I wished for more focus on Hari Dev as his character was so compelling. The narrator's voice changes from character to character & his voice felt almost like the main protagonist. Hari Dev shared the spotlight with his sister, Adhira.
Kirby_M 3 months ago
An ambitious story about a place/time that was new to me - exactly why I read historical fiction. Impressively researched and well written. In the latter half of the book the story of the relationships in the family takes center stage and the story really gains momentum. This is the first in a series of four books - much to look forward to.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Get ready to be transported to 16th century India. A beautifully written, immersive debut. Looking forward to more from this author!
Anonymous 3 months ago
Because of my work, I often go to India and Rajasthan in particular. Duva's "Faint Promise" allowed me to put in place what I have been seeing. The temples, however pretty, now have a depth behind them. The stone has a story. I now see an Adhira, a Girija, a Hari Dev, a Padmini when I look into the eyes of the folk I meet. Thank you Anjali for this exotic story which has made my travels so much more real. Gorgeous!
jgdupee 3 months ago
From the first pages, the reader is transported back in time to a changing world - 16th century India. Though the history may be unfamiliar to many, the novel is so filled with sensory images that we cannot help but be swept up in it - our nostrils flare with the scents of the spice market; our skin tingles as we fill the drops of the first rain in months; our mouths taste the dust and heat of the desert; and we dance along with Adhira as she and her family navigate the complex and changing physical and emotional landscape. Truly a fascinating read; both heartbreaking and uplifting; gripping from beginning to end.
crystallyn 3 months ago
The world of 16th century India was admittedly foreign to me before I read Duva's gorgeous novel. That mattered little, however, because she's a master of drawing the reader into the world of her characters, the dance, and the changing area near the citadel of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan. I can still picture the places--the temple, the modest home in which Adhira grows up, the desert camps, the market and citadel. The novel and everything that happens within it center around Adhira, a mystical child who was born into a family of Hindu temple dancers, called devadasi. Ahdira embodies the dance and what it represents, but is also subject to the hard lessons of being tied to a wealthy patron. The book transcends the story of the temple, wrapping the reader in a story of family and how, just as with families today, the relationships between family members are sometimes tenuous, complex and fraught with both love and drama. It's rare when I read a book that makes me care so deeply about so many characters. Faint Promise of Rain does that for me in spades. I felt Girija's worry and pain, Gandar's blind devotion and the folly of his choices, Hari Dev's struggle and his kind heart, Padmini's sadness and Mahendra's desire and disillusionment. I felt anger when bad things happened to the family, and deep conflict when they acted in ways that only hurt themselves. I wanted them to be loved, to succeed, to be happy. And Ahdira! I felt her magic weaving through me with every word. These are characters I will remember and think about for many years to come. Duva's debut novel speaks volumes about her talent. I can't wait to read her next book!
JillGHall 4 months ago
Set in ancient India, The Faint Promise of Rain, filled with lovely metaphors, sensory details and intriguing characters will remain with me for a long time. The compelling tale is flawlessly woven together through the thoughts of an omnipresent temple dancer. I highly recommend it to those who like to travel to distant places and times through reading historical fiction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This novel transports you. Exquisite writing, wonderful story, beautiful characters, interesting time period. A page turner. Well done and highly recommended.
Unboxed More than 1 year ago
Faint Promise of Rain is a work of art.  This finely embroidered, literary novel brings together a slice of India’s history, the traditions of Hindu temple dance, a poignant family saga and gripping stories of love and loss.  It was a book I savored reading slowly, one that pulled me entirely into its exquisite world and taught me reams about Indian history, folklore and religion.  I was especially fascinated by the look it gives at the treatment of women in the place and time it's set in, and the blurred lines between the sacred and the lurid.  A must-read for hopeless romantics, history buffs and all who appreciate fine writing and prose.