With two novels written, it is clear that Shilpi Somaya Gowda knows a thing or two about familial love and obligations, and how they can shape people as they start to create an identity for themselves.
Five years after making The New York Times bestseller list with Secret Daughter, Gowda’s second novel, The Golden Son, focuses on the bond between Anil and Leena. Anil comes from a highly regarded farming family that is at the head of settling village disputes. He is also the first in his family to get a higher education, being that he studied medicine in America, leaving his inheritance behind. Leena is the eldest child in her family, who is strong, and has supported Anil since childhood. As Anil leaves India to pursue his dreams, Leena dreams about marrying into a love like that of her parents’.
Within Gowda’s writing you find fantastic characters to empathize with. The traumas that they endure do cause you to feel bad, but witnessing their lives unfold makes the characters more relatable. Their experiences are every-day. Gowda’s influence from a trip to India for her first novel, and the medical research she undertook for this one really shine through, as she uses both to craft believable characters into an exquisitely woven storyline.
The non-static secondary characters also bring the story to life. The well-rounded group of characters play well off each other, and work logically together in terms of creating pivotal plot points. As Anil does his residency at a hospital in Dallas, Texas, the trials of his roommates are intriguing with bits of endearing humour. They serve as catalysts for important decisions that Anil realizes he must make either benefiting his career, or maintaining his family bonds and duties overseas. As Leena marries into another family, she comes to realize just how bitter life can be made by the hands of others.
Gowda excels at telling this delicate storyline by alternating chapters between Anil and Leena. The idea of fate becomes more and more prevalent as you read further into the story, as we must question the inevitability of things as Anil and Leena grow from experiences in work, relationships, and the heartbreaking results of decisions made long ago by their families.
The Golden Son will not disappoint, especially in its ending. Gowda is a master storyteller, and with this only being her second novel, it’ll be an antsy wait to see what she will follow up with.