Ruined by Reading

In the Convent of Little Flowers

Posted in Book Reviews, Fiction, Short Stories by M on February 5, 2009


Title: In the Convent of Little Flowers
Author: Indu Sundaresan
Pages: 224
Genre: Short Stories, Fiction
Rating: 5/5

From the dust jacket: A young woman who was adopted by an American family in Seattle receives a letter from Sister Mary Theresa, nun at the Convent of Little Flowers in Chennai where she stayed as a child. Unbeknownst to her, the nun is her biological mother’s sister. The grandmother of an Indian journalist begs him to intervene with her husband — his grandfather — to prevent a young widow from being burned alive. A child born out of wedlock to the sixteen-year-old daughter of a peon on an engineering college campus throws the entire family into turmoil.

With the lush prose, vividly rendered settings, complex and appealing characters, and compelling narratives, the stories that comprise In the Convent of Little Flowers illuminate the lives of Indians at home and abroad today, where modernity offers them opportunities that their grandmothers only dreamed of, while others experience just as much oppression as ever. Indu Sundaresan brings together stories that both embrace and reject modern values with an authenticity that only a writer of her caliber could do.

I’m a huge fan of Indu Sundaresan. I read and loved both The Twentieth Wife and Feast of Roses. I’m happy to report that In the Convent of Little Flowers lives up to her earlier work.

I loved all the stories, but there were a few that stood out to me as slightly better and more interesting than the others. Sundaresan covers a lot of controversial issues like honor killings, sati, homosexuality and even parental abuse. Many of the stories are absolutely shocking and heartbreaking to read, and a lot communicate the cultural idea that the individual is less important than the society or family unit as a whole. The last story in the book reminded me a lot of Deepa Mehta’s Fire (the film). She’s beautifully descriptive and I especially liked how she used flashbacks and waited until the final few pages or paragraphs to reveal the entire story to the reader.

I really hope Sundaresan comes out with another collection of short stories. I would recommend In the Convent of Little Flowers to everyone.

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2 Responses

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  1. S. Krishna said, on February 5, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    I loved this as well. I’m a huge fan of Indu Sundaresan too! I reviewed it here!

  2. […] I finished one book last week – In the Convent of Little Flowers by Indu Sundaresan. You can read the review here. […]


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