Set in the early nineteenth century, A Tapestry of Tears is about female infanticide, and the unmaking of tradition. If a woman gives birth to a female child, she must feed her the noxious sap of the akk plant. That is the tradition, parampara. Veeranwali rebels, and fights to save her offspring.
The other stories span a spectrum of emotions and also bring to life the varied culture and social spectrum of India. Woven into this collection is the past and the present, despair and hope, and the triumph of the human spirit.
Sometimes tradition is a double-edged sword.
“A Tapestry of Tears,” the story this anthology was named after, showed what happened to Veeranwali after all of her children were killed shortly after birth. Female infanticide was a longstanding tradition in the family she’d married into, and everyone seemed to be resigned to it. What I found most interesting about this character’s life was how hard she fought to keep her babies alive. The love she felt for all of them was beautiful and fierce. It made me want to know more about this amazing woman.
I’ve come to deeply appreciate Ms. Reddy’s gorgeous writing style, and I’ve seen so much growth in her work since I first began reviewing her books a few years ago. With that being said, there were a few times when I was confused by how she introduced the characters in tales like “No Other Way.” Ms. Reddy threw the reader into a family’s decision to send their matriarch to a nursing home before they moved overseas without sharing the identities of any of the characters in this drama or explaining why some of them were so conflicted about this decision. I was captivated by the conflict once I figured out that Samyukta was the elderly mother, but it took a few puzzling missteps to get to that conclusion. I wish this hadn’t been so, because I truly did enjoy listening in as her and her family worry and debate about whether this was the best option for her.
Ganga, the main character in “Only Her Daughter,” suffered one of the greatest losses a person can endure when her young daughter died suddenly. What made her life even more interesting to me was what happened after little Komal’s death. There were so many twists and turns in the plot that I couldn’t stop reading. I simply had to know what Ganga would encounter next!
I’d recommend A Tapestry of Tears to anyone who is willing to think long and hard about the difficulties and joys that the women that this author wrote about lived with every day of their lives.