Moonstone for empathy. Azurite for memories. Lapis lazuli for truth… In the quiet village of Noon Sun, Benedict Stone has settled into a complacent and predictable routine. Business at his jewelry shop has dried up; his marriage is on the rocks. His life is in desperate need of a jump start…
And then a surprise arrives at his door.
Novels about love and second chances abound right now, but Patrick’s follow-up to her debut, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, rises to the top with its clever plot, utterly charming characters, and warmly believable conclusion.
When the revered children’s author Mort Lear dies accidentally at the Connecticut home he shares with Tomasina Daulair, his trusted assistant, she is stunned to be left the house and all its contents, as well as being named his literary executor. Overwhelmed by the responsibility for Lear’s bequest, she must face the demands of all those affected by the sudden loss of this man they all loved.
The engine of Roy’s story is a hijra (India’s third gender) named Anjum, and the story begins with her unrolling a threadbare Persian carpet in a city graveyard she calls home. Anjum’s charisma draws a vibrant assemblage of outcasts to join her–other hijras, Kashmiri freedom fighters, activists, orphans, low-caste Hindus and Muslims, and a host of animals. Anjum’s home is a place where the formerly unwanted embrace each other’s true selves.
As this ravishing, deeply humane novel braids these lives together, it reinvents what a novel can do and can be. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness demonstrates on every page Arundhati Roy’s storytelling gifts.
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is a novel of maddeningly frayed edges, wonky pacing and occasional longueurs. But its patchwork of narratives, painful, funny, sexy, violent, earthy, otherworldly, its recurring images of lost and recovered children, individual sacrifice and self-denial, and its depiction of the constant battle toward self-assertion in a society still held in thrall to the taxonomy of caste and class, make for a disturbing and memorable return to the land of make-believe.