Secret Daughter: Book summary and reviews of Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Secret Daughter

A Novel

by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Secret Daughter
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' rating:

  • Published in USA  Mar 2010
    352 pages
    Genre: Novels

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this book

Book Summary

On the eve of the monsoons, in a remote Indian village, Kavita gives birth to a baby girl. But in a culture that favors sons, the only way for Kavita to save her newborn daughter's life is to give her away. It is a decision that will haunt her and her husband for the rest of their lives, even after the arrival of their cherished son.

Halfway around the globe, Somer, an American doctor, decides to adopt a child after making the wrenching discovery that she will never have one of her own. When she and her husband, Krishnan, see a photo of the baby with the gold-flecked eyes from a Mumbai orphanage, they are overwhelmed with emotion. Somer knows life will change with the adoption but is convinced that the love they already feel will overcome all obstacles.

Interweaving the stories of Kavita, Somer, and the child that binds both of their destinies, Secret Daughter poignantly explores the emotional terrain of motherhood, loss, identity, and love, as witnessed through the lives of two families - one Indian, one American - and the child that indelibly connects them.

Read a Sample

Click to the right or left of the sample to turn the page.
(If no book jacket appears in a few seconds, then we don't have an excerpt of this book or your browser is unable to display it)

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

"First novelist Gowda offers especially vivid descriptions of the contrasts and contradictions of modern India. ... Rife with themes that lend themselves to discussion, such as cultural identity, adoption, and women's roles, this will appeal to the book club crowd." - Library Journal

"[A] lightweight fable of family division and reconciliation, gaining intensity and depth from the author's sharp social observations." - Kirkus Reviews

"Gowda’s subject matter is compelling, but the shifting points of view weaken the story." - Publishers Weekly

"Gowda has masterfully portrayed two families... linked by a powerful, painful tie that complicates their lives... A thought-provoking examination of the challenges of being a woman in America and in India -- and in the psychological spaces in between." - Chitra Divakaruni, author of The Palace of Illusions

"The Secret Daughter is a deeply moving and timeless story of an adopted daughter's long distance search for cultural identity and acceptance; first with the mother who raised her, and ultimately with the mother who gave her up." - Kathleen Kent, author of The Heretic's Daughter

The information about Secret Daughter shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

Kimberli M. (Jessup, MD)

Great Book!!
I really enjoyed Secret Daughter. It was very well written and I felt like I really knew the characters. It was really eye opening to see what life can be like in India. It was also great to see the journey that each one of the characters went on. They all grew in some way.

I cried at the end of the book, but it wasn't a bad cry. I would definitely recommend this book and will look for future books from this author. Secret Daughter is a great book for book clubs. There are many things to talk about.

Sally G. (Saint Johns, FL)

Secret Daughter
I enjoyed this story of India, adoption, culture differences, families and history.

The author takes you on a journey with Somer, a singular breadth of view, only child of well-to-do parents brought up in California and her meeting and marriage to Krishnan, a fellow intern that happens to be from India.

Somer is not a bad person at all, but has the plight of an only child that has never had to share or compromise.

The contrast is in the parallel story where we meet Kavita, an Indian woman that morns the loss of two daughters, one that she gives to an orphanage and one that dies.

My favorite character is Krishnan’s mother, Sarla. As a mother-in-law she is judgmental but understanding of this new daughter-in-law and is portrayed as a wise woman and great grandmother.

Secret Daughter has deep meanings of differences in old cultures. Some can be ever so cruel but others are wonderful

I know you will want to read and savor this powerful book of strong, smart women with so much food for thought and contemplation.

Phoenix M. (Eclectic, AL)

Secret Daughter
This is a story of two mothers; Kavita from India and Somer from America. They are from two extremely different backgrounds and cultures, but each have family struggles and challenges to endure.

The story unfolds the daring love for their daughters and shows that this love is an instrument of healing in both families.

This book provides an excellent view of the everyday life of a woman in Indian culture. Kavita makes extreme sacrifices but triumphs over all.

This would make the perfect book for a club to discuss.

Barbara C. (Riverside, CA)

The Facets of Family
Seeing India and Mumbai from the points of view of so many people made it a feel-good sociological study. Who could not fall in love with Asha from the day she was born? These were real people and the writing improved as the book went along. I have a soft heart and I wasn't disappointed. I have never wanted to go to India, but now I am not so sure.

Elizabeth K. (glenshaw, PA)

Secret Daughter
This is a wonderful heart warming multicultural story that spans 20 years. Readers will enjoy reading and discussing the difference in American and modern Indian cultures. The common thread of love of a child will appeal to all ages. The glossary at the back of the books is helpful.

Dorothy T. (Victorville, CA)

Heartbreak and Hope
The loss of a child takes varied forms, but each is a cause of unspeakable grief and heartache. The Secret Daughter enlightens us about a place and a culture that might be unfamiliar to some readers, but the essence of the story is that loss, whether it comes as a result of miscarriage, sacrifice, or life decisions. But I was not left with a sense of hopelessness, rather just the opposite. The author handles all this with great skill and a style that kept me involved with the characters and their story to the very end. I encourage anyone who likes engaging fiction with a chance to learn something about India and its culture to read this one: it will stay with you long after you finish the last page.

...15 more reader reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

More Information

More Information

Shilpi Somaya Gowda was born and raised in Toronto to parents who migrated there from Mumbai. She holds an MBA from Stanford University, and a Bachelor's Degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 1991, she spent a summer as a volunteer in an Indian orphanage. A native of Canada, she has lived in New York, North Carolina, and California. She now lives in Dallas with her husband and children. This is her first novel.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

More Recommendations

Readers Also Browsed . . .

more novels...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Romanovs
    The Romanovs
    by Simon Sebag Montefiore
    The Romanovs chronicles the reigns of the 20 individuals who were considered members of that dynasty...
  • Book Jacket: Barkskins
    Barkskins
    by Annie Proulx
    Barkskins, by Annie Proulx, is not a book to read quickly. After a month of slow reading, I ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Marriage of Opposites
    by Alice Hoffman
    Alice Hoffman's latest work, The Marriage of Opposites, is a historical fiction novel focusing on ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Miss Jane
    by Brad Watson

    "Starred Review. Sensitive, beautifully precise prose. Highly recommended." - PW

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Secret Language of Stones
    by M. J. Rose

    "A fantastic historical tale of war, love, loss and intrigue."
    – Melanie Benjamin

    Read Member Reviews

Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Fair Fight
by Anna Freeman

A page-turning novel set in the world of 18th century female pugilists.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Summer Stunner
Summer Giveaway

Win 5 books, each week in July!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

W M T N, W C F All

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

BookBrowse Summer Giveaway

We're giving away
5 books every
week in July!