Friday, 17 June 2016

A House For Happy Mothers by Amulya Malladi

A House For Happy Mothers by Amulya Malladi
Published on the 3rd May 2016 by Lake Union Publishing.

One of my WorldReads from India

How I got this book:
Received a copy from the publishers via NetGalley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

'In trendy Silicon Valley, Priya has everything she needs - a loving husband, a career, and a home - but the one thing she wants most is the child she’s unable to have. In a Southern Indian village, Asha doesn’t have much - raising two children in a tiny hut, she and her husband can barely keep a tin roof over their heads - but she wants a better education for her gifted son. Pressured by her family, Asha reluctantly checks into the Happy Mothers House: a baby farm where she can rent her only asset - her womb - to a childless couple overseas. To the dismay of friends and family, Priya places her faith in a woman she’s never met to make her dreams of motherhood come true. Together, the two women discover the best and the worst that India’s rising surrogacy industry has to offer, bridging continents and cultures to bring a new life into the world - and renewed hope to each other.'

As a non-maternal woman I wasn't sure how I would get on reading a book about babies! I am interested in the moral dilemma of paid surrogacy though and found A House For Happy Mothers to be a fascinating insight with compelling perspectives from both sides. Malladi takes time to show us all aspects of her characters and their families, their motives for undertaking surrogacy and the reactions from their friends and families. The irony of the title nicely sums up the whole novel as no one, with the possible exception of the profiteering doctor, seems happy at all and I am still as undecided about the issue now as I was before I started reading, but at least now I feel much better informed. Asha should have the right to be paid to be a surrogate mother if she chooses to, but is it really a free choice when her family would otherwise live in such poverty? Priya and Madhu couldn't have a child who is genetically their own any other way, but when so many babies face growing up without any semblance of family, isn't adoption a more socially valuable choice? Is having that genetic link worth all this emotional upheaval?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading A House For Happy Mothers right up until the last couple of pages where the prose suddenly becomes unrealistically schmaltzy for the sake of a happy ending. The synopsis is wrong in that the women, Priya and Asha, aren't in this 'together', but I appreciated reading their views of Asha's pregnancy and what the outcome would mean for each of them. Malladi manages to make both circumstances utterly convincing and I always wanted to find out what would happen even though I didn't agree with everything that was said or thought. I would definitely suggest A House For Happy Mothers as a great Book Club choice as there would be a lot to consider and discuss, although I could see discussions getting heated!

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  1. Great review! I am from India, so its so cool to find someone else reading a book based in Inida!
    New GFC and Blogllovin' follower.
    Thanks for visiting my blog! :)

    1. Thanks for the follows :-)
      I am looking forward to keeping up with your blog too!

  2. Wonderful review Stephanie. This books sounds really interesting, that's too bad about the ending. I'll have to suggest this book to our library book club for the upcoming year.

    1. Thanks Jovita! The ending's style did annoy me though it might not bother other readers. I think this could be a great book club choice though. I imagine the book's ideas triggering lots of animated discussion!