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Saturday, 21 January 2017

Extract from The Lost Daughter of India by Sharon Maas

One woman. One impossible choice. Her daughter or her happiness …
When Caroline meets Kamal the attraction is instant. He’s enchanting, charismatic and she can’t wait to set up a new life with him in India. Both their families are against the union but Caroline is convinced they’ll come round, especially when she gives birth to a beautiful daughter, Asha.
Asha is an adorable child but Caroline, homesick and beginning to hate the remote Indian village they live in, struggles with motherhood. Kamal is hardly ever there and she feels more and more isolated. In the grips of severe depression Caroline flees back to America, leaving Asha behind.
Ten years later …
Caroline recovered from her illness, is consumed by thoughts of the daughter she abandoned. Desperate to find Asha, she reunites with Kamal, intent on tracking her down. Will they ever be able to find their lost daughter? If they have any chance, they must confront the painful truths of the past and a terrible secret that has been kept for many years, until now.
A heart-breaking and beautifully written story of loss, secrets and the strength of a mother’s love against all odds. If you enjoyed Diane Chamberlain and Lucinda Riley then this book will find its way into your heart and stay there.

Title:     The Lost Daughter of India
Author: Sharon Maas
Published By: Bookouture
Publication Date: 9th January 2017
Links:  UK: Amazon   US: Amazon

We are delighted to be able to share an extract of the book

The Lost Daughter of India

 Chapter One

Caroline. Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1970

Caroline snuggled deeper into Meenakshi’s lap, her favourite place in all the world. Meena’s whole body was a cushion, soft and yielding, and when you cuddled into her it moulded around you and held you safe. It was the best place for a five-year-old to spend a summer evening, swaying gently in the rocking chair on the back porch, Meena’s arms around her as she held the book.

The backyard smelt of summer: of sun and moist earth from the water sprinkler gently waving to and fro. The sounds were of summer too. Birds twittered in the chestnut tree in the centre of the backyard, squirrels scampered across the branches, chattering among themselves. The sights and sounds and fragrances of a leafy neighbourhood in Massachusetts, America surrounded them. Meena didn’t smell of America. Meena had her own distinctive smell, and Caroline breathed her in. She smelt of India, sweet and spicy all at once, a thousand secret aromas all mingled together. It was in the fabric of her saris, in her hair, in her very skin, dark as a hazelnut and shiny as silk. It wafted, too from the pages of that book, which Meena had brought with her from India when she was a little girl, the same age as Caroline was now.

It was a big book, the biggest book on Caroline’s shelf, with over a thousand pages. They had been reading it for months now, every day a chapter, and it might be a year before it was finished, and that was fine with Caroline. She hoped it would last for ever. It was that sort of a book, the kind that took you off on journeys with different characters to different places but sooner or later brought you back to the main story; and you would understand the main story a little bit better because of that little excursion. It was the sort of book that took you on a voyage far, far away and made you live in another place and another time and become another person while you were away. It was the sort of book that created vivid pictures in your mind so that you were actually there and then and among those people and even turned you into those people so that they weren’t foreign any more because you became them.

Meena’s voice was perfect for the story. It was languid but strong; Meena was never in a hurry to get to the end of a story and close the book. She read as if she had all the time in the world, and probably she did; and she could put on a man’s voice or a girl’s voice or a demon’s voice or the voice of a god and make you believe that very person was speaking. She could give you goosebumps, and make you quake in fear. She could transport you into that person’s soul.

Right now, Caroline was in India, a young prince disguised as a simple priest, and he was about to win the hand of the most beautiful princess in the world, Draupadi.

“Arjuna strode over to the bow, head held high,”’ Meena read, in her strongest book-voice – her royal voice, Caroline called it. ‘“As effortlessly as Karna had done before him, he raised it; the kings gasped. He picked up one of the glittering arrows, took aim at the fish spinning high above, released the arrow. With a silver streak almost invisible to the eye it pierced the eye of the fish, which tumbled to the ground. A roar as thunder filled the arena; furious, fuming, the assembled kings waved their fists and screamed insults into the arena; but Arjuna was unmoved.

“With three wide springs he leapt onto the royal dais and stood before Draupadi, holding out his hand. Dhrishtadyumna helped his sister to her feet and placed her hand in Arjuna’s. Conch moaned and trumpet blared as Arjuna led his bride away: like a young celestial with a heavenly apsara…”’ (‘What’s an apsara?’ asked Caroline, and Meena replied in her normal Meena voice: ‘a heavenly dancing maiden.’) ‘“…like god Vishnu with his consort, the goddess Lakshmi, like the sun with the moon by his side, the two left the arena, flowers raining down on them from heaven. Brahmins cheered, kings raged. Karna fell to the ground. The four remaining Pandavas looked at each other and they, too, left.”

Meena closed the book. ‘And that, my sweet, is enough for today.’

‘No!’ cried Caroline. ‘I want to know what happened next! Do the Pandavas get their kingdom back? Do they come out of hiding? Does Draupadi have to go and live with them in the forest? What happens, Meena?’

‘Well, you will just have to be a bit more patient, because tomorrow I will read to you some more. Your mommy and daddy will be home from work any time now and they will want to see you and hear what you have been doing all day.’

Caroline pouted. ‘I want you to read some more! I want

‘What! What are you telling me! What happens to little children who say I want all the time?’

‘“I want never gets,”’ replied Caroline, her bottom lip stuck out. ‘I know. But still. It’s not fair.’

‘Life isn’t fair,’ Meena said as she lifted her up and placed her on the ground. Laying the book on the porch table, she tilted the chair forward and slowly, with much effort, pushed her cushiony body to her feet, grasped Caroline’s hand and led her indoors, through the kitchen where Lucia was cooking the evening meal, into the hall and up the stairs to Caroline’s bedroom to get her ready for her parents’ homecoming. Her three older brothers were still outside, at friends’ homes, playing baseball on the street, climbing trees; the things boys do after school. They’d be in soon, too.

Caroline’s father was a lawyer; he worked very hard and sometimes he didn’t make it home for dinner. But her mother, a doctor, always did; and it was her mother who, after dinner, would give her her bath and put her to bed and read her a story. But those stories were never as real as the ones Meenakshi told from memory, or read from books: stories of Indian kings and queens, heroes and villains and gods disguised as animals or beggars; cows who could fulfil desires and deer who could speak and monsters who could change shape at will.

If you asked Caroline what she wanted to be when she grew up, she’d say, like many an American little girl, a princess. But Caroline would be no Disney princess. She’d marry a prince like Arjuna, and ride to her wedding in a howdah on an elephant’s back wearing a fabulous sari adorned with real jewels; and her palace would be in India.

Caroline was in love with India before she could even write the word. She could point to it on the globe, and she’d tell anyone who asked that that was where she’d live when she grew up. Adults would laugh indulgently, and pat her on the head, and tell her she was dreaming; but Caroline knew it was destiny. She would grow up to marry an Indian prince.

About the Author

Sharon Maas was born in Georgetown, Guyana in 1951, and spent many childhood hours either curled up behind a novel or writing her own adventure stories. Sometimes she had adventures of her own, and found fifteen minutes of Guyanese fame for salvaging an old horse-drawn coach from a funeral parlor, fixing it up, painting it bright blue, and tearing around Georgetown with all her teenage friends. The coach ended up in a ditch, but thankfully neither teens nor horse were injured.

Boarding school in England tamed her somewhat; but after a few years as a reporter with the Guyana Graphic in Georgetown she plunged off to discover South America by the seat of her pants. She ended up in a Colombian jail, and that's a story for another day...

Sharon has lived in an Ashram in India and as German Hausfrau--the latter giving her the time and the motivation to finally start writing seriously. Her first novel, Of Marriageable Age, was published by HarperCollins, London, in 1999 and reprinted as a digital edition in 2014. She now lives in South Germany and works as a Social Worker in a hospital. Watch this space for more books to come!

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