This story takes place in the mountain town of Merrit's Point in Northern British Columbia. The Dharma home is isolated. It is the only inhabited building for miles around.
It opens with a dead body found in the backyard of the Dharma family house. It is the body of their tenant Anu Krishnan. It was 30 degrees below zero that night. Anu had taken her jacket off. The question is why would Anu go out in a blizzard? Didn't she know how dangerous cold can be?
Anu wanted time away from the busy city so that she could write and reflect. Vikram rented the back-house to Anu for one year. She had found the house through an university friend who kept in touch with everyone in the graduating year including the quiet and reserved Vikram Dharma and his first wife Helen(Harini). Anu didn't remember Vikram, but she did remember Helen, a pretty, fun loving and outgoing woman. During her stay, she befriends Suman, the second wife, and Akka, the matriarch of the Dharma family. Her arrival will soon change the balance of the Dharma household.
Living in the house is the Dharma family. The husband Vikram, his first wife Helen, their daughter Varsha and Vikram's elderly mother Akka. Helen was a messy housekeeper, a bad cook, but she loved to dress up and go out. Vikram was a jealous man and treated her poorly. One day, she decides to leave. She has had enough of Vikram. She takes her car and off she goes. Shortly after leaving, Helen is killed in a car accident. Vikram is shocked and very angry.
Vikram then decides to go to India for the first time and in an arranged marriage, marries Suman. Six months later she arrives at the Dharma house. Suman is so different from Helen. She is quiet and timid. She arrived from India, full of promise of her new life, a new home, a new country and a daughter from Vikram's first marriage. Soon after, Suman gives birth to a son named Hemant. Suman is a wonderful housekeeper and a very good cook, but Vikram finds fault with everything she does. He has a bad temper and begins to abuse her in the same way he did with his first wife. He calls Suman a fool and criticizes her for still wearing saris. Suman stops smiling and now she cries a lot. He even whips his own daughter with his belt. Vikram's mother Akka tells Suman to leave and run as fast as she can to get away from her son. Varsha loves her step-mother and hides her passport so that she can't leave. With Anu's friendship with the two women, terrible things are bound to happen. Secrets are now beginning to spill out and that will cause more problems.
Tell It to the Trees is a domestic drama of family life set in an Indian household, about the impact of family secrets and the cost of preserving and protecting the family name.
The writing is beautifully descriptive. The characters are vivid and you will be transported to a different world. The novel is filled with suspense and family secrets that will hold your interest from beginning to end.
Anita Rau Badami's novel Tell It to the Trees is a WINNER.
This is the story of a murder (in the 1st chapter), family secrets and domestic abuse all within the Dharma family who had immigrated from India to a small isolated town in Northern B.C.
I found it hard to close this book once I had started. The subject matter is very disturbing (various types of domestic abuse) yet the story grabs you. The characters were well-developed and I found that either my heart was breaking for them, I was terrified for them or I loathed them.
This has to be one of the best portrayal's of the effects of domestic abuse that I have ever read.
Tell it to the Trees is the disturbing and compelling story of domestic violence and psychological abuse within a family.
It is winter as the story opens and Anu, a single woman who has been renting the " back house " from the Dharma family for several months, is found frozen to death close to the front door of the Dharma home.
The Dharma family is composed of five secretive and troubled people: family matriarch Akka, father Vickram,his second wife, Suman,Suman's young stepdaughter Varsha, who lost her mother very early in life , and five year old son Hemant. They live in a small town in northern BC.
Anu, who arrived several months earlier,has been witness to the screams and cries from the Dharma home .She has also noted the bruises and black eyes on more than one of the members of the Dharma household. Anu decides to do what she can to better the life of Dharma family, particularly for Suman and her young son, Hemant.
Narration takes place from many viewpoints and we get a glimpse into the frightened and damaged people that make up the Dharma family, as well as Anu's thoughts.
Tell it to the Trees is a haunting, tense tale that grabs you from the start and never lets you go.
Not as good as her prior books but a very good, authentic story. It was short and I took one star away as I felt she may have rushed the book to print and did not take the time to flesh out her characters or broaden the story. Still - very good read.