The Sari of Surya Vilas by Vayu Naidu – Book Review

Sari is a garment that all Indian girls love. We all get a few from our mothers as heirloom. A mention of saree in the title of a book was all I looked at when I bought the book.

I have a lot of saris from my mom and even a sari from my grandmother and I would have loved to know the history of each piece.


Blurb –

Allarmelu is nine years old when her mother dies, leaving her in Surya Vilas, the family home, now a world of spinster aunts and men. When she discovers that her mother’s wedding sari, an heirloom passed from mother to daughter, is missing, Allarmelu must track it down—without revealing that it was stolen by a family member. Tracing the sari sends her into a world never mentioned in genteel company, of exotic Russian dancers and unacknowledged mistresses. But puberty and the changing urban landscape of Madras make Allarmelu challenge the complacent silences of family and British rule alike.

1857: Sari looms are set alight on the Coromandel Coast and weavers murdered. The East India Company ships an orphaned girl to England, to work as a governess. Born Chandrika, and converted to Christina, she carries a sari woven with the symbols of an incendiary past that she must strive to forget. However, she finds the words to narrate her experiences through working for the Philological Society, leaving a secret that will only be unravelled in the next century.”


My Review –


The Sari Of Surya Vilas is a very different or I would say that I have not read anything like this before.

The book is divided in two parts, one from 1909 and the other from 1857.

It starts with 1909 and set in Surya Vilas where Allarmelu lives, who is a young girl and a loving and spoilt daughter of a very prominent man of the area. Her character is really described well. I totally fell in love with her, there is nothing you can dislike about her.

I really loved the first part of the story. The events and the characters of the first part are very well placed and makes the first part a true delight to read.

The second part of the story talks about how the sari originated and is written in a way of a diary. I found this part a bit drag and not as interesting. This part talks about the history and a lot about the way sari’s were woven. I’m not sure how much of this history is true as I have not heard or read much about it.

You cannot rush into this book, you should take your time to read each chapter. This is a slow story and if you like stories like that you will enjoy this for sure.

I would recommend it to all the people who love historic fiction without the involvement of kings and queens, I mean royalty. And read it if you, like me love saris or any Indian handloom.

I would rate it a 3/5. I will want to read more books from Vayu Naidu if I ever spot them anywhere.

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