Rating: 4 out of 5.

This is a very good contemporary fiction/mystery/thriller set in India. Geeta’s dead-beat husband left her five years ago. She didn’t kill him, but everyone thinks she did. Since then, she’s taken out her nose ring (become a widow) and made a life for herself selling hand-made jewelry. The inhabitants of her small village scorn Geeta, gossip about her, and the children are afraid of her. While this would make some women sad, Geeta relishes in her freedom.

Geeta’s freedom is noticed by other woman, who ask for Geeta’s help in getting rid of their no-good husbands. Some women beg for Geeta’s help – others demand rather than ask. Despite Geeta’s efforts to avoid participating in another’s demise, no matter how deserving, she becomes tangled in the women’s lives. The more Geeta gets involved, the more she realizes her assumptions about being ostracized from village life is perhaps not accurate. Before she knows it, Geeta’s life becomes fuller and more complicated than she ever thought it could be.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Geeta was a fantastic character. She was strong, confidant and prickly, but yet still had a soft center hidden deep down inside. Geeta begins the story thinking she didn’t need anyone or anything in her life other than to be left alone. As Geeta works with women in her village, however, she begins to realize that just isn’t true. I loved watching her growth, especially when she started to let people into her life and allow herself to be vulnerable. I especially enjoyed seeing Geeta and her former best friend start to grow close again after years of estrangement.

The author does a fantastic job of describing the caste system and Indian culture, without it feeling like I was reading a term paper. I confess I know very little about the Indian culture, so I found the information interesting. It was hard to read about the injustices to women and certain minorities in the country. Although there was a lot of abuse and heartbreak in the book, there was also hope. It was uplifting reading about the village women’s relationships, as well as the relationship between Geeta and a man from the village.

This is a really good book about women’s relationships and I highly recommend you read it. I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group, Ballantine Books. All opinions are my own.