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Independence by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Historical fiction


by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Quick take

This riveting Partition story captures the tumultuous moment when a nation and family are torn irreparably apart.

Good to know

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  • Illustrated icon, Icon_ForbiddenLove

    Forbidden love

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  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Siblings


Why I love it

Jerrod MacFarlane
BOTM Editorial Team

Partition. A simple word that suggests a neutral, dispassionate separation. But the 1947 Partition of India was anything but neutral or dispassionate. It pitted friends, families, and communities against one another. Rare is the book that can capture this kind of seismic moment and still attend carefully to intimate human drama. But Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s Independence is just such a book, wise and sensitive to the many ironies of history.

Nabakumar Ganguly is a well-respected doctor in Bengal. His family is content though short on money, as he never turns away a patient from his clinic. He has three daughters: Priya, Deepa and Jamini. When we first meet, they are just beginning to chart their own courses: Priya wishes to follow her father into medicine; Deepa is committed to finding a marriage to shore up her family’s fortunes; Jamini, the most devout among them, hones her craft as a quiltmaker and harbors secret passions. But after Partition their lives are irrevocably changed. One sister finds herself in the newly formed Pakistan, another ends up far afield in America. Amidst violence and upheaval, each struggles to assert control over their lives and do right by those they love.

Through the story of one family, Independence paints a vivid and gripping portrait of a nation being pulled apart at the seams. For any readers that love historical fiction where history remains alive, reminding us why we fight over love, freedom, and our beliefs, this is one not to be missed!

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India, 1947.

In a rural village in Bengal live three sisters, daughters of a well-respected doctor.

Priya: intelligent and idealistic, resolved to follow in her father’s footsteps and become a doctor, though society frowns on it.

Deepa: the beauty, determined to make a marriage that will bring her family joy and status.

Jamini: devout, sharp-eyed, and a talented quiltmaker, with deeper passions than she reveals.

Theirs is a home of love and safety, a refuge from the violent events taking shape in the nation. Then their father is killed during a riot, and even their neighbors turn against them, bringing the events of their country closer to home.

As Priya determinedly pursues her career goal, Deepa falls deeply in love with a Muslim, causing her to break with her family. And Jamini attempts to hold her family together, even as she secretly longs for her sister’s fiancè.

When the partition of India is officially decided, a drastic—and dangerous—change is in the air. India is now for Hindus, Pakistan for Muslims. The sisters find themselves separated from one another, each on different paths. They fear for what will happen to not just themselves, but each other.

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Get an early look from the first pages of Independence.

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