Harmony Book Reviews

Climbing the Stairs by Padma Venkatraman

Posted on: January 9, 2009

  Climbing the StairsTitle: Climbing the Stairs

Author:Padma Venkatraman

Rating: 8/10

Summary: (Taken from Amazon)

During World War II and the last days of British occupation in India, fifteen-year-old Vidya dreams of attending college. But when her forward-thinking father is beaten senseless by the British police, she is forced to live with her grandfather’s large traditional family, where the women live apart from the men and are meant to be married off as soon as possible.

Vidya’s only refuge becomes her grandfather’s upstairs library, which is forbidden to women. There she meets Raman, a young man also living in the house who relishes her intellectual curiosity. But when Vidya’s brother makes a choice the family cannot condone, and when Raman seems to want more than friendship, Vidkya must question all she has believed in.

Padma Venkatraman’s debut novel poignantly shows a girl struggling to find her place in a mixedup world. Climbing the Stairs is a powerful story about love and loss set against a fascinating historical backdrop.

My Thoughts: Climbing the Stairs is a story unlike any others I have read. It captures the innocence of a teenage girl living in a fighting zone where not only one but two wars are being fought and her want to be independent instead of leaning on a man like most of the other women of her time. The need of family, no matter how dysfunctional they may seem, also plays an important part in the novel.

My main complaint with this one is that I would have loved to see more development in some of the side characters, particularly Vidya’s grandfather and cousins. However, the character who were fully developed (Vidya, Kitta, and Raman particularly) almost made up for this. The only other complaint is that towards the end, the romance was slightly predictable. But I was still rooting for them and ended up very pleased with the result. I also would have liked to see more of Kitta throughout the novel.

Second the characters, I also enjoyed the setting. It was intricately described and though not a place or time I was familiar with or would want to be, it kept me hooked throughout the novel.

Even if this doesn’t seem to be your type of book or if you’re one of those people who aren’t too big on historical fiction, I still recommend checking this out because it will take you away to the point where you’ll forget it’s historical.


3 Responses to "Climbing the Stairs by Padma Venkatraman"

I really want to read this book; it’s even already on my TBR list. My cousin was reading it went on vacation, and it’ll be like the first book I read about Indian culture-ish.

I’ve never heard of this book before, but it looks fabulous. Great review. 🙂

I bought this book a while back (it was on sale on Amazon and its been on my wishlist since it came out!), but haven’t gotten around to it. But what a good review! Now at least I know what to look out for!

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