It’s a pleasure to kick off this fantastic Blogtour The Secret of Elephants by Vasundra Tailor.
About the Author
Vasundra Tailor was born in India and was just a few weeks old when her parents brought her to Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesia) in 1954. Though set against a backdrop British colonial rule and segregation in the area, Vasundra had a happy childhood, surrounded by a large extended family.
She qualified as a pharmacist in 1977, and was eager to leave Zimbabwe for the UK to escape the fighting between the minority white government and local freedom fighters. She arrived at Heathrow in the Spring of 1978, and moved to Strathclyde for her Masters in Pharmaceutical Microbiology, before settling in London a year later, where she is still based today.
Vasundra started writing in 2016, after enrolling onto an online Creative Writing course, joining book groups and local writing groups, which gave her the feedback and confidence to tackle her first book. Fascinated by human relationships, Vasundra’s writing is interested characters from diverse backgrounds and explores how people connect with those around them.
The Inspiration for The Secret of Elephants, Vasundra’s debut novel, came from the families currently living in a property in India which once belonged to her father. In November 2019, an extract of The Secret of Elephants won the second runner-up prize for the Mo Siewcharran Fiction Competition, to help discover unpublished fiction writers from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds. Follow @vasundrajay on Twitter
About the book
Two sides of the same family – one living in luxury in a magnificent mansion, the other penniless in its shadow. Could a mysterious letter from the past help Nirmala and her young son take back what is rightfully theirs?
Navsari, India. Penniless and trapped in a loveless marriage, Nirmala spends her days anxiously caring for her sick young son, Varun. Looming over Nirmala’s impoverished home is an imposing mansion built by her grandfather, and from its balcony her cruel aunt scorns them, refusing to help in any way.
But when a mysterious letter addressed to her long-dead father arrives from Zimbabwe, it opens a door to a past Nirmala never knew existed and a future she never imagined possible. If the contents of the letter can be believed, not only does she have family in Africa, but they might also hold the answers to a family mystery that spans three generations.
While travelling to Zimbabwe might lead to a brighter future for Nirmala and her son, it could also reignite the bitter family feud that condemned her family to poverty. Nirmala is ready to risk it all to uncover the truth, but how will she cope when this journey changes her life forever?
Nirmala has spent the majority of her life in the shadow of her family and their wealth. She is the poor relative, the one they look down upon, the one who lives in a little ramshackle place across the road from their impressive mansion.
Living a life in fear of the displeasure of a man she never wanted, doesn’t love, and who treats her with disdain. A man who thinks her son – their son – is a weakling because he is unwell. When by pure chance a letter addressed to her deceased father falls into her hands and reveals a secret she was unaware of, she starts to wonder whether life for herself and her son could be different.
The gift of being a natural storyteller isn’t one that all writers possess – they all tell stories, but there is a difference between telling a story and being a storyteller. The author leaves lines in the sand as she pulls her rake behind her, with an almost peaceful quality, and compels the reader to follow the patterns of the story being unfolded before them.
It’s a tangled web of emotional baggage and trauma. Decisions made in the blink of an eye with no regard for the majority of the people involved, they cast dark shadows over the generations of this family. They influence paths taken, chances missed and how connections are made between family members.
I think one of the most poignant relationships in the story is the one between Kanta and Suresh. The way her lack of emotional attachment creates this wave that devours everyone in their close vicinity. Does the damage inflicted become justifiable when weighed with the truth?
The author pulls in moments from history, surroundings, and politics to give context to the places the story is set in, but does so in a way that never overshadows the main plot and characters. It’s a nice wee slow burner of a read.