I read the blurb of A House for Happy Mothers and thought ‘Wow! This is going to be one hell of a story!’. I haven’t read a book before that talked about surrogacy and hence I was so looking forward to reading this book. But was I impressed? Read to know.
A House for Happy Mothers is about two women – Priyasha and Asha.
Priyasha is an Indian-American woman married to a Telugu man Madhu. She has a perfect life – a great career, a doting husband, and an amazing home. She is unfortunate to bear a child, having suffered several miscarriages. Priya wants a baby so badly and can’t imagine a life without a child. Madhu is fine with or without but supports his wife in all her decisions. The IVFs are a failure and they also don’t want to adopt. Priya convinces Madhu to opt for surrogacy – an option where underprivileged women in India act as surrogates.
Asha, a poor woman in India is the surrogate. She is the wife of a painter and a mother of two kids. Her son is an intelligent kid and Asha and her husband wants to send him to a better school. Only that they on their present wages could hardly make ends meet, let alone enjoy any luxuries. They hear about being a surrogate, through Asha’s sister-in-law, and about how the money they received in exchange had changed their lives. Asha’s husband encourages her to be one so as to buy a flat, for their child’s education and to live a better life. Thus, Asha decides to sell her womb for money, by carrying someone else’s child.
A House for Happy Mothers is where the lives of two women- Priya and Asha come together. It’s about how their emotions collide, and how even though both of them have apprehensions about surrogacy they still do it.
Review: A House for Happy Mothers
The Whoa and Ouch Moments!
The book stood pretty on a bookshelf at one of the book fairs I recently visited. Yup, the cover was so pretty that I immediately grabbed it. The title somehow gave that sense of hope, of sunshine. I know I sound lame, but that was how it was. I then read the blurb only to find it intriguing and interesting.
As I read through, I had an instant liking for Priya and Madhu; the bond they shared. It was raw, uncensored and totally relatable. But that was it. After this initial connection, I was lost.
Priya and Madhu hire Asha through an organization called ‘Happy Mothers’. Since she desperately needed money to find a good school for her intelligent and gifted son, she decides to be a surrogate. The helplessness, desperation, and poverty are understandable.
But I thought I would get a bit more from Asha. She didn’t have a voice in any of the matters. Her opinions, desires, and decisions never mattered to anyone. She was encouraged, rather coerced into this by her husband; she couldn’t talk about her feelings for the child in her womb and was blackmailed into being on a television show by the doctor in exchange for a recommendation to a school for her son. Something is finicky with the doctor, don’t you think?
Yes, you get subtle hints from the book that ‘Happy Mothers’ is indeed, a babymaking farm. However, there could have been, in detail, a probe into the surrogacy market that is/was thriving in India.
I do not have extensive knowledge of the same and I’m writing this on the basis of how it is portrayed in the book. I can give the benefit of the doubt, that the author wanted to primarily focus on the lives of the women. But then again, I was left wanting for more- the emotional struggle of both sets of parents and the journey of Asha who was bearing a child which was not her own. Is it ok for a rich woman to pay a poor woman to carry her child? Is it exploitation or is it helping that woman have a better life? Is it a win-win situation?
I also had a nagging thought in my head – what about Asha’s daughter? Her education? I agree, that she wasn’t extraordinarily brilliant like her brother. But wasn’t her schooling important too?
A poignant tale, the author was brilliant with her narrative and writing style. It was engaging and eloquent. I also loved the names of the characters- Priyasha and Asha meaning a dear wish- one’s fulfilling the other.
Do I Recommend?
This isn’t necessarily horrible, but it’s not as good as I hoped for. It lacked depth.
3.5 on 5
Grab the book from Amazon if you’re up for it.
|Details of the Book|
|Title: A House for Happy Mothers||Publisher: Lake Union Publishing|
|Author: Amulya Malladi||ISBN: 9781503933316|
|Genre: Fiction||No: of Pages: 314|