- Paperback: 314 pages
- Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (1 June 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781503933316
- ISBN-13: 978-1503933316
- ASIN: 1503933318
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.5 x 21 cm
- Average Customer Review: 13 customer reviews
Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
#58,460 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #4845 in Contemporary Fiction (Books)
A House for Happy Mothers: A Novel Paperback – 13 Dec 2017
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About the Author
Amulya Malladi is the author of six novels, including The Sound of Language and The Mango Season. Her books have been translated into several languages, including Dutch, German, Spanish, Danish, Romanian, Serbian, and Tamil. She has a bachelor's degree in engineering and a master's degree in journalism. When she's not writing, she works as a marketing executive for a global medical device company. She lives in Copenhagen with her husband and two children.
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Being a surrogate was never on Asha’s list of things she wanted to do in future, but if she didn’t, her son wouldn’t have a future. So, enrolling herself at the Happy Mothers Clinic seemed the best choice to earn some money and ensure that her super smart son gets into a super school for such students. On the other hand, despite trying for years, Priya is unable to carry her pregnancy to term. After 3 miscarriages and multiple failed IVF treatments, surrogacy is her only option. So, she ends up contacting Happy Mothers Clinic as a final resort.
From the clinic starts Asha and Priya’s journey into the world of motherhood. For Asha, who has 2 kids of her own, this surrogate pregnancy exposes her to feelings she never knew she had. For Priya, it becomes her life’s center point. What begins in a laboratory soon finds it’s footing in Asha’s womb and Priya’s heart.
I was never a motherly figure to anybody, unlike my sister. She loved kids when we were kids ourselves. Needless to say, she was the one to whom most of our cousins turned to (she and I are the eldest, in that order, and the rest follow) The change began when my niece was born, those little fingers, that squishy body, and tiny yawns, she took my heart away. I knew I wanted children of mine one day. And soon enough, we were expecting. Our joy knew no bounds and I couldn’t wait to feel my baby inside me. But before I could even get my feet on the ground, we lost it. No heartbeat. The one who had almost made my heart stop when I knew it was inside me had no heartbeat of itself. Devastated was an understatement. For days I lay in bed, clutching my empty womb and bleeding, crying when my husband wasn’t anywhere near me to spare him of the emotional torture of seeing me broken. It was the single most difficult task to pick myself up, to accept that my life wasn’t over and I had to move on in order to find that happiness again that made me realize the value of human life and the connection to one’s offspring. Days went by, and when things were normal again, life gave us another set of little pink lines. Positive for the second time. This time, there was no joy but subdued happiness and a lingering fear. I wasn’t ready to lose a baby again. Not physically, not emotionally. It had just been 3 months since the last time. So, the next 3 months were critical. After crossing the barrier of the first trimester, our tensions subsided a little only to scare us a month later in the form of complete bed rest. I remember how much I used to worry, talk to the baby and wait for her answering kicks to feel calm again. On days when she didn’t answer, I would ask my husband to give Reiki to her and talk to her in case she was angry with me. Although he understood my situation, it drove him mad listening to my unending baby talks. Well, the months dragged in the last trimester before I heard my girl’s first cry. And that was the first and only time when I was happy listening to her cry. It was 7 and a half months ago. Today, when I look back at the year gone by, I am sure it was one of the best that I’ve had, and in no way, I’ll ever want to trade it. But what if I hadn't been blessed? What if after that first time there had been no second chance? Would my life have been the same? Absolutely not.
Infertility has become more common than we care to admit. In fact, I know a few couples who are dealing with it and trust me, it’s not at all easy. While a lot of healthy people are suffering because of this, it’s usually the women who are blamed. No kids mean the woman is barren (a term which I consider derogatory) With the scientific advancements that have put the man on the moon and maybe will put him on Mars as well soon, it’s no wonder that the joy of parenthood is not beyond reach for such couples/singles. One of the ways to this joy is surrogacy, and this book deals with it extensively. People might say stuff like “If it’s meant to be, it’ll happen on its own”, or maybe that the woman doesn’t deserve a baby. I don’t believe all this nonsense. To top it all, new age saviors shouting over-population just pisses me off even more. I remember discussing on a similar topic on an online reading group, the plotline of Dan Brown’s Inferno. The right to have or not have babies. I was dealing with my loss during those days, and this post by a fellow reader made me really agitated. The whole post saw hundreds of comments and the thing that I found common in them was that only those who were unmarried/young (say less than 25 years of age)/already had children were the ones siding with infertility as a means to control population. And in my 28 years of existence, I’ve seen more people change colors faster than a chameleon. Those who said they’ll never marry were sending out invitations before year end. Those who never wanted to have babies are pregnant. The hypocrisy doesn’t end here, it runs deeper than it shows. When a celebrity wants to increase their progeny even after having teenage children and uses a surrogate, it’s a matter of joy. When a normal couple wants to do the same, tongues start wagging. Not deserving. *Cough* Overpopulation. *Cough*
For surrogacy to establish, there must be 2 parties. In this story, those 2 parties are Asha and Priya. The story, even though told in the third person, captures the emotions of these women beautifully. In spite of the plot being simple and predictable, the author’s hold on the human emotions is so strong that one doesn’t want to let go. Asha’s emotions, ranging from doubt, contempt, rage, sad, happy, elation, and whatnot are explored deeply. Her feelings while carrying someone else’s baby in her womb, the dilemma of being emotionally attached to it or not, it was all so real. I could start feeling her frustrations while reading. Not only her, I felt Priya’s emotions too when I sided with her. I could understand her crazed attitude towards her unborn baby, her constant state of stress, all felt eerily similar. Not just the emotions, relationships as well play a critical role in keeping the reader engaged. The sensitive relationship between Asha and Priya and their respective relationships with their spouses and other family members becomes the secondary plot line. The whole thing was like a pandora's box, and myriad emotions fell out of it. The best thing about this story is the author's ability to balance both the sides. Asha, coming from a lower class, and Priya, an upper-middle-class woman, put their respective happiness at stake. For Priya, the birth of her baby is important, and for Asha, the future of her son. Their thoughts about each other, their views of each other’s world is very expressive. The stark contrast between their entire being doesn’t stop them from having a mutually beneficial relationship. For baby, and for money. Having said so, I don’t think it to be anybody’s matter to voice their opinion in such personal matters of someone else. One fact that struck me hard is the that people can go to any extremes for money, whether they like it or not. I cannot even imagine giving up my relationships for someone let alone a baby I’ve nourished inside me once it is born. It takes a resolve greater than anything else to do this act. Poverty does this to people, I now know. There are cases on the other side too when the surrogates don’t get emotionally messed up, but I refuse to believe that any woman could be so detached until I meet one of them.
To all the women who ache for a baby but aren’t able to beget one, my heart goes out to you. And to all those who have never considered how blessed they are that they have children, it is time to think again.
P.S. My review isn’t meant to hurt anybody’s sentiments. These are my views, I don’t sham any method/person/thinking apart from those who sham others.
Amulya Malladi, a bestselling Indian author, has penned a thoroughly refreshing and alluring contemporary fiction called, A House for Happy Mothers that surrounds around two women, one wants a baby desperately thus choosing the surrogate route to India away from her posh Silicon valley life with her darling husband and aristocrat friends, and the other is desperate to provide a good schooling and education to her highly intelligent son and also to keep the wolves away from the doorstep of her poor household by selling her womb. A journey that connects two mothers in different yet in emotionally similar ways that is vivid, raw and extremely heart-touching to read about.
A stunning new novel—full of wit and warmth—from the bestselling author of The Mango Season.
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.
Priya, the Indian-American woman, has the perfect life that a woman can ever ask for, a perfect career, a perfect and doting husband, and a great home, and the only thing missing is a child of theirs own. Unfortunately Priya can't get pregnant, after several miscarriages and terrible nightmares, together, Priya and her husband decides to opt for surrogacy service, a borrowed womb to carry their future child. Hence they have to travel all the way to India, to her husband's hometown at Hyderabad to borrow the womb of another woman who is going to give Priya hope of becoming a mother.
Asha, a mother of two and wife of a house-painter, can barely manage to keep her household financially stable, considering her husband's low-paid daily laboring job. And not to mention, she desperately needs money to admit her highly intelligent and gifted son to a proper school where he can excel and get all the guidance. Hence upon the suggestion of her sister, she decides to sell her womb for money by carrying a child of someone else. Two women, one becoming a mother to give her son a proper education and the other is desperate to become a mother to her own child. And when their paths collide through motherhood, it is beyond amazing and emotional to witness such moments between them.
This is the first time that I read any book by this author, and even though I had no idea about her previous books or her writing style, this book simply won my heart. The world of surrogacy isn't that explored or talked about or penned about by the authors and the subject of surrogacy has always been a mystery to me, so the blurb of the book lured me to grab a copy of this book and start reading instantly. And glad I read this book, the author vividly showed me the truth and emotional struggle behind the expensive world of surrogacy.
Penned with evocative feelings that is bound to move the readers deeply all through the tale, this book is an extremely poignant one. The writing style of the author is brilliant and eloquent, laced with deep emotions. The narrative is equally engaging and articulate and sways gently with its free flowing movement. The pacing is smooth as the story is crafted with enough unforeseeable moments that will keep the readers glued to the book. Also the issues addressed by the author, especially the journey of a woman, who is bearing a child which is not her flesh and blood, is very well portrayed by the author with raw emotions and sentiments that will make the readers sympathize with her ordeal.
The author has done her research really well, as she has intricately depicted the reality behind the white washed walls covered with promising and glossy family pictures of any surrogate centers of the country. But the author's focus primarily remained on the lives of the two women, where one is pregnant and the other is eagerly and happily looking after the other one's family. And surrogacy can bring two families with no blood ties closer than one can ever imagine and that is wonderfully captured by the author into this book.
The characters are really well developed by the author, as they depict realism, honesty and emotions that are highly relatable to the eyes of the readers. Priya is a complex woman, but why wouldn't she be, considering the challenges she has faced in life and also she has many layers to her personality. Asha is a simple housewife, a mother and a wife with only one dream to give proper education to her son and her determination is the driving point of this story, as she goes through an emotional upheaval, yet holds tight to her promise of delivering and giving away the child she is carrying in her womb. The secondary characters are also very interestingly penned, especially the husbands of both the women.
In a nutshell, this is a must read book about motherhood and compassion, for all contemporary fiction readers.