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The Story Hour: A Novel

The Story Hour: A Novel

4.5 11
by Thrity Umrigar

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From the critically beloved, bestselling author of The World We Found and The Space Between Us, whom the New York Times Book Review calls a “perceptive and . . . piercing writer,” comes a profound, heartbreakingly honest novel about friendship, family, secrets, forgiveness, and second chances.

An experienced psychologist, Maggie


From the critically beloved, bestselling author of The World We Found and The Space Between Us, whom the New York Times Book Review calls a “perceptive and . . . piercing writer,” comes a profound, heartbreakingly honest novel about friendship, family, secrets, forgiveness, and second chances.

An experienced psychologist, Maggie carefully maintains emotional distance from her patients. But when she meets a young Indian woman who tried to kill herself, her professional detachment disintegrates. Cut off from her family in India, Lakshmi is desperately lonely and trapped in a loveless marriage to a domineering man who limits her world to their small restaurant and grocery store.

Moved by her plight, Maggie treats Lakshmi in her home office for free, quickly realizing that the despondent woman doesn’t need a shrink; she needs a friend. Determined to empower Lakshmi as a woman who feels valued in her own right, Maggie abandons protocol, and soon doctor and patient have become close friends.

But while their relationship is deeply affectionate, it is also warped by conflicting expectations. When Maggie and Lakshmi open up and share long-buried secrets, the revelations will jeopardize their close bond, shake their faith in each other, and force them to confront painful choices.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The sixth novel from Umrigar (The Space Between Us) is a deeply moving portrait of connection, disconnection, and missed connections set in an unnamed Northeastern university city. Maggie Bose is a black psychologist married to an Indian man; when an Indian woman, Lakshmi, is admitted to the hospital after a suicide attempt, Maggie is assigned the case. She understands the woman’s sense of isolation, and offers to treat her pro bono. Lakshmi is lonely, married to a man who doesn’t love her, and she works without pay in his grocery store and restaurant. Maggie tries to befriend Lakshmi by telling her stories about her life. When Lakshmi brings food as thanks, Maggie and her husband encourage the patient to accept catering jobs in order to earn her own money. Soon, the lines blur between patient and friend. A secret from Lakshmi’s past and the impulsive action that follows her discovery of Maggie’s affair change their lives. Although Umrigar is sometimes heavy-handed, this compassionate and memorable novel is remarkable for the depth and complexity of its characters. (Aug.)
Kirkus Reviews
Umrigar's (The World We Found,2012, etc.) novel begins as a small domestic drama and develops into a forcefulexamination of identity, cultural isolation and the power of storytelling.When Dr. Maggie Bose first meetsLakshmi after the young woman's suicide attempt, she can already guess atLakshmi's story—abusive husband, familial separation, cultural isolation—a lifein America that is so like those of the many other immigrant women she'streated. They begin weekly therapy sessions, though Lakshmi seems unaware ofthe purpose—are they not new friends, simply sharing their stories? Lakshmi'stales of her Indian village, of the time she saved the landowner's son, hercare for the village elephant, her pride at a hard-won education, are shadowedby her current life in a cold Midwestern college town. Her husband treats herwith contempt, demands she work long hours at his restaurant and, perhapsworse, forbids contact with her family in India. Maggie suspects Lakshmi isless in need of psychotherapy than autonomy. Maggie and her husband, Sudhir (anIndian math professor, a fact that delights Lakshmi), begin promoting her as acaterer to their friends. Maggie teaches her to drive. Lakshmi's independenceeven improves her marriage. And then Lakshmi tells Maggie a story that rewritesher whole narrative; she did a shocking thing, and for these six years inAmerica, she has been the villain and her husband, the victim. Maggie is nowrepelled, though she has her own secrets. Despite 30 years of happy marriage toSudhir, she is having a reckless affair. When Lakshmi finds out, this destroysthe story of Maggie and Sudhir's enviable marriage, and so Lakshmi takesrevenge. The novel begins with a suicide attempt and ends with the regeneratingpossibilities of storytelling as a means of healing, of shaping identity, ofendlessly re-creating the world. An impressive writer, Umrigardelivers another smart, compulsively readable work.
O Magazine
“Past misdeeds threaten the friendship of a psychologist and her immigrant patient in a fictional tale that asks, are we more than the sum of our mistakes?”
Boston Globe
““A taut, suspenseful page-turner with depth, heart, and psychological credibility whose believable and enduring characters ponder the meaning of friendship, the challenges of marriage, and the value of storytelling itself.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
“[a] thoughtful and moving new novel...”
BookBrowser Review
The Story Hour is…a compelling testament to the power of story to unite people, transcend differences, and ultimately heal both the self and relationships.”
Midlife at the Oasis
“I was hooked immediately…. The book will make a great movie…with actresses vying for the roles of these strong, unforgettable characters.”
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
“Thrity Umrigar’s novel The Story Hour showcases her ability to bring to life characters who are…sympathetic yet flawed in ways we can all relate to.… I read deep into the night to find out how their stories end, and I predict you will, too!”
Paula McClain
“With grace, wisdom and incredible compassion, Thrity Umrigar has woven together the lives of two seemingly dissimilar women who must learn—against steep odds—to forgive each other and themselves.”
Luis Alberto Urrea
“Thrity Umrigar has an uncanny ability to look deeply into the human heart and find the absolute truth of our lives. The Story Hour is stunning and beautiful. Lakshmi and Maggie will stay with readers for a very long time.”
“Skillful…. Much like a therapy session, this deft, well-paced novel contains breakthroughs and growth, and, at its end, leaves the reader wistful that the allotted time on the couch has run out.”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

Thrity Umrigar is the author of five other novels—The World We Found, The Weight of Heaven, The Space Between Us, If Today Be Sweet, and Bombay Time—and the memoir First Darling of the Morning. An award-winning journalist, she has been a contributor to the Washington Post, Boston Globe, and Huffington Post, among other publications. She is the winner of the Nieman Fellowship to Harvard, Cleveland Arts Prize, and Seth Rosenberg Prize, and is the Armington Professor of English at Case-Western Reserve University.

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The Story Hour 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Two2dogs More than 1 year ago
I love this author, I've read all her books and could not wait for this new one. This story is about friendship between two women of very different backgrounds, Lakshmi grew up very poor in India but in a very loving family, Maggie grew up in a cold troubled family their friendship is "difficult" and very human, we are not perfect human beings but can find friendship even in our differences, good story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed the Story Hour....from the excellent writing to the enchanting story. I am a fan of this author and enjoyed many of her books BUT I believe the Story Hour is her best to date. Beautiful characterizations with enthralling relationships....my only complaint is the ending.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Insightful story that explores human weakness
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful story of love,friendship,betrayal and forgiveness.
RodRaglin 7 months ago
Love transcending In the Story Hour an arrange marriage find Lakshmi, a woman from a small town in India, working in her husband's restaurant in the American midwest. She is exhausted, unhappy, isolated. She attempts suicide and comes under the care of Maggie, a psychologist and African American. Maggie is married to an Indian, Sudhir, who came as a student and stayed on to become a professor and American citizen. Maggie and Lakshmi are from different cultures, have different family dynamics but their similarities as women, indeed as human beings transcends the patient doctor relationship and finds them becoming friends. Gradually understanding grows and with Maggie's help and guidance economic disparity between the two diminishes. But when secrets are revealed both judge each other unfairly in the most part because, despite their affection for each other, it's impossible for each to overcome the biases ingrained by culture. The relationship seems irreparably damaged but one woman is prepared to risk everything for make it right again. Author Thrity Umrigar really shines a light on how our background and different cultures frame the way we see ourselves, our fellow human beings and the world around us. It's also a realistic, compassionate and hopeful look at the lives of millions of immigrant women from third world countries who come to reside in the west. The story has depth, humour, passion and compassion and remarkable insight. A true novel for the twenty-first century.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Post their locatons here!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SMHarris More than 1 year ago
Receiving a copy of THE STORY HOUR via a Goodreads First Reads, the novel shares the story of Lakshmi, an Indian immigrant in the US, and her therapist, Maggie. Bound by a dysfunctional relationship, both have secrets that eventually come to light and that change the course of both of their lives. I found the characters in the novel especially compelling and realistic, and while the plot was somewhat simplistic, the story easily triggers a dialogue regarding a lot of pertinent issues. I highly recommend the book…
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thought provoking
MomsSmallVictories More than 1 year ago
Note: I received this book for free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.  I'm a big fan of Thrity Umrigar, having read The World We Found and her memoir First Darling of the Morning. Dealing with the complex issues of suicide, depression, family honor, arranged marriage and the life of an inmmigrant, this book took me on an emotional journey through Maggie and Lakshmi's lives. Umrigar allows us to invade the most vulnerable and deepest thoughts of two women, shows us how they can be so apparently different but inherently the same, and how their mistakes impact their relationships and turn their lives upside down.