Book Review : A House For Happy Mothers

“Even though they had all the creature comforts they could dream of, none of the women in the Happy Mothers House was happy. Asha saw it everywhere. The frustration of being away from their families, the humiliation of lying to everyone about their pregnancy, the conflict of having a baby inside them they mustn’t bond with –these were definitely not Happy Mothers.”

The best part about reading diversely, is that occasionally I come across books that teach me something new about things I think I know. I knew about the surrogacy market in India, or so I thought, until I read Amulya Malladi’s A House For Happy Mothers.

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The cover certainly is “happy” looking!

Priyasha (Priya; ethnically half-Indian, but culturally fully American) and Madhu are a Silicon Valley couple who have been trying unsuccessfully to start a family. When Priya hears from some friends about surrogacy as an option, she convinces Madhu that they must try it. The surrogate who carries their baby is Asha, an uneducated housewife from a small village in Andhra Pradesh, India. A House For Happy Mothers tells the stories of both these women who will go to great lengths for their child–Priya, for the baby she craves and Asha for the gifted child she wants to ensure an education for.

I have to mention at this point that parts of this book may be triggering for women who are struggling to start a family, or have had miscarriages.

Going beyond the surrogacy, the novel also explores other themes like poverty, mother-daughter relationship, and the relationships between these women and their husbands. Personally, I enjoyed exploring the contrast between the city bred, progressive Madhu, versus Pratap, Asha’s husband, who is still caught up in the patriarchal mindset which allows him to make the decisions for his wife.Seeing how this experience affects both these marriages was thought-provoking. Malladi’s observations on Indian societal expectations are spot on and I could relate to them completely.

In simple prose, free of embellishments, these characters and their stories become three-dimensional. Malladi doesn’t take sides or become judgmental. Alternating between Priya’s and Asha’s POV she offers glimpses of both these worlds, generating empathy for both.

A House For Happy Mothers  asks all the ethical and moral questions, but offers answers to none. It only shows us these two worlds and leaves the decisions to the reader, because ultimately happiness is never what we think it is.

FTC disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for this honest review.

Author Bio: http://www.amazon.com/Amulya-Malladi/e/B001HD2YH6

Other Reviews of this book:

Brown Books & Green Tea : Book Review | A House For Happy Mothers

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22 thoughts on “Book Review : A House For Happy Mothers

  1. Oh, Whitney reviewed this on earlier! It does sound great and the book cover is beautiful.
    I don’t know much about the surrogate market in India other than what I’ve seen in documentaries. I stand to learn much from reading a book like this.
    Has the book already been released?

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  2. Well, see, I don’t know a single thing about the surrogacy market in India, and now I will have to go on a hunt for a book about that. As well as adding this to my TBR list, cause it sounds excellent and super interesting — I’m always on board with a book that explores ethical/cultural clashes like this in a thoughtful way.

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    • A lot of people are unaware of the surrogacy “tourism” and medical”tourism”. Medical procedures tend to be cheaper in India than in the West and it brings a whole lot of people looking for the same. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it the book Jenny 😊

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  3. I saw Whitney’s review of this, and it’s been added to my list. It’s good to see another positive review for it! I have never read anything on this topic before.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hadn’t read any fiction on this topic either, only a few newspaper articles. It was a good read. Hope you enjoy it. Do let me know what you think!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This sounds like an intriguing read. I like that you say the author doesn’t attempt to answer the questions she poses. I find it frustrating when authors try to force their opinions on readers rather then encouraging them to think critically.

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  5. The theme of the novel is completely new to me. I don’t know anything about surrogacy market in India. And Ithink this is the first book in which I have come across such a topic. Ofcourse there are Indian movies on it, but perhaps this is one of the first books.

    Great review. Glad it was a good read

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  6. Yes more smart stuff from you, I kow very little about the surrogacy market in India! It’s wonderful to hear your perspective on it and now you’ve really made me want to get this one even though it’s a new release! 🙂
    Doesn’t this make you mad, too? That the trouble is really that midle-class women or generally women with privilege get what they want including more freedom (fr ex from housework or care work) by loading it onto poor women. So good to learn about this market but sad that this is replicated with regard to surrogacy too. Even heard of egg donation and the newest frontiers of womb donation attempts, guess who all is providing the stuff and who enjoys the benefits.Rant over 😀

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  7. But you must tell us more! Does the American couple travel to India to get their new baby? What do you mean that the Indian mother wants an education for her child–do you mean the forthcoming baby, or a child she already has? More, more!

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    • Don’t want to give away spoilers but I can tell you that yes, the American couple does does travel to India and the Indian mother already has two children, and she wants the money from the surrogacy to educate her son. To say anything more would be to give away too much… sorry!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This is a wonderful review. I have been reading a few of your book reviews, and I really enjoy how you describe your feelings on each one in such an eloquent way. This book sounds like a very interesting and meaningful read. I don’t read many books set in India, but that needs to change.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your kind words Chioma 😊 Appreciate your reading my reviews and I’m glad if you find value in them. This book was something new for me too, as I had never read any fiction about surrogacy before.

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    • Oh..it was a good book! But yeah, unpleasant in bits especially those in which Lent was involved. And the pacing and repetitiveness. Other than that, a good read.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh god! Sorry. Just realized that this is the wrong post! I was talking about Orphans of the Carnival.
        This book was super. Very thought provoking.

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