Hi friends! Today I’ll be sharing my very conflicted thoughts on Avni Doshi’s Girl in White Cotton, aka, Burnt Sugar.
I read this book as a part of my bookclub in May. If you are looking for a bookclub to join, we read books nominated for various prizes. Do join READ WITH NIKA BOOKCLUB
What ‘Girl in White Cotton’ Meant to Me
‘Girl in White Cotton’ was a book I picked up in May and it left me with such complicated feelings. It is described as a “love story and a story about betrayal… between mother and daughter”
A complicated mother
The thing that I could simply not comprehend was how difficult a mother Tara was. What made her act that way? What made her so… uncaring about her daughter? I have to admit that sometimes I am a person who tends to see things in black and white. And this experience of reading the book placed me in such a position where I simply could not understand the motives of the mother in acting the way she did. I think a mother is supposed to love and care for her child – not necessarily at the cost of her own selfhood – but at least actively taking action for the good of her child.
A conflicted daughter
And this is where the issue lies with me – I hate Tara for making Antara go through all that she did. The games that the mother played were not well accepted by me either – she is hot and cold, and constantly confuses her daughter Antara. Therefore it is no wonder why Antara seems unable to form stable emotional bonds with those around her. I mean, superficially they seem normal but as the reader, we get to see her emotional turmoil – one that she herself is not completely aware of. Moreover, as the aspect of memory came up again and again, I felt like both mother and daughter were becoming unreliable narrators.
Who is responsible?
And in general, Antara is not responsible for how her mother made her feel, I believe. The reason she had all the conflicted emotions about her now-old and dementia-ridden mother, is because the mother never really gave her any security – physical, emotional, or mental. And the end just confirmed my emotions – Tara is nothing more than a vindictive soul.
As a story it made me feel so much – I applaud the author’s talent, I really do. These characters made me angry and confused, and I was definitely in for a ride. But I have to say, objectively speaking, it was very good and therefore no wonder it got nominated for so many prizes. I can say for sure that I will definitely be reading any future novels of Avni Doshi.
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