Author: Thrity Umrigar

+Blog Book Tour+ The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar *Release Day!* #literary fiction

Posted Tuesday, 19 August, 2014 by jorielov , , 2 Comments

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The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar

Published by: HarperCollins Publishers (@HarperCollins), 19 August, 2014

Available Formats:Hardback, Ebook
Page Count:336

Official Author WebsitesSite@ThrityUmrigar  | Facebook

Converse via: #ThirtyUmrigar

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Acquried Book By:

I was selected to be a tour stop on the “The Story Hour” virtual book tour through TLC Book Tours. I received a complimentary ARC copy of the book direct from the publisher HarperCollins Publishers, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Book Synopsis:

The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar

From the critically acclaimed, bestselling author of The World We Found and The Space Between Uscomes a profound, heartbreakingly honest novel about friendship, love, and second chances.

An experienced psychologist, Maggie carefully maintains emotional distance from her patients. But when she agrees to treat a young Indian woman who tried to kill herself, her professional detachment disintegrates. Cut off from her family in India, and trapped in a loveless marriage to a domineering man who limits her world to their small restaurant and grocery store, Lakshmi is desperately lonely.

Moved by Lakshmi’s plight, Maggie offers to see her as an outpatient for free. In the course of their first sessions in Maggie’s home office, she quickly realizes that what Lakshmi really needs is not a shrink but a friend. Determined to empower Lakshmi as a woman who feels valued in her own right, Maggie abandons protocol, and soon doctor and patient become close. Even though they seemingly have nothing in common, both women are haunted by loss and truths that they are afraid to reveal.

However, crossing professional boundaries has its price. As Maggie and Lakshmi’s relationship deepens, long-buried secrets come to light that shake their faith in each other and force them to confront painful choices in their own lives.

With Thrity Umrigar’s remarkable sensitivity and singular gift for an absorbing narrative,The Story Hour explores the bonds of friendship and the margins of forgiveness.

Author Biography:Thrity Umrigar

Thrity Umrigar is the author of five other novels—The World We Found, The Weight of Heaven, The Space Between Us, If Today Be Sweet, and Bombay Time—and the memoir First Darling of the Morning. An award-winning journalist, she has been a contributor to the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, and the Huffington Post, among other publications. She is the winner of the Nieman Fellowship to Harvard, the 2009 Cleveland Arts Prize, and the Seth Rosenberg Prize. A professor of English at Case Western Reserve University, she lives in Cleveland, Ohio.

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My Review of The Story Hour:

The voice of whom greets you as Chapter One opens is a woman whose English is not second nature, as she struggles a bit to fuse words to match her thoughts and emotions. Yet even in the manner of which she voices her innermost concerns, her voice has depth of awareness; of sensing her place as it is in the world and of where she is in her life. We are greeting Lakshmi at the very moment she is attempting to take her own life. Everything is planned and laid out within the opening page, except for getting to the root of what has caused her such a deeply felt psychological anguish as to effectively want to exit her life. The details of ‘why’ she is choosing what she is doing will surely come forward lateron, but in this heightened moment we are witnessing her actions without a way to decrease the tension of the moment. As she starts to move towards completing her task to remove herself from this world, her mind flickers back through memories of how unfair and unjust her situation has become whilst living in America.

We start to see how she has a torrent of psychological abuse stemming from her husband and how even the kind favour of a gift of gratitude will be interpreted with disfavour by others. She is struggling to make sense of her self-worth and her position in life now that she is no longer with her family back in India, where she even kept an elephant as a pet. Whilst her voice draws quieter through her ordeal, the next person to step into focus is her soon-to-be psychologist Maggie who is an African-American married to an Indian; her marriage is the leaverage her boss is hoping will open a door of dialogue with Lakshmi. I could understand Maggie’s instinctive reaction of disgust realising that the merits of her work ethic and capabilities as a psychologist were only second to being a woman of colour and living in a multicultural home. She tabled her own restless thoughts as she knew they were stemming out of anger ‘in the moment’ rather than out of experience with being around her boss. In this one scene, very early-on in the novel, Umrigar humbles her psychologist by allowing the reader to visually see her own flaws, misgivings, and humanistic reactions.

I felt myself distracted a bit by the pacing inside the novel, and the shifting points of time — as it was not always easily known if we were reading the present circumstances or withdrawing back into a flashback sequence of memories. What I did enjoy was seeing how the psychologist was starting to spiral a bit from the pressure of everything she had to endure internally as she listened to other people’s stories. It is rare when it is mentioned that psychologists have a weight placed on them that nearly expects them to be inhuman. To be more than they are, as they are not able to be shielded nor numb to what they listen to during their sessions. They still have to internalise the words, the horrific stories, and find some semblance of hope to share with their patients. This is a story that honours the psychologists who for whichever reason, have reached a point in their careers where carrying on as usual is not as easy as it once were.

Although Lakshmi’s voice is a strong undercurrent of the story, I nearly felt as though it was her personal plight in life and cross to bear that gave the freedom for Maggie to heal herself. Maggie was just as much in need as counsel and consolation as Lakshmi. Their paths crossed at a critical point in both of their lives, to where the sessions Lakshmi needed to talk out her life’s experiences and the emotional vaccum that had encased her past the point of wellness; gave Maggie a chance to re-examine her own difficult past. Both women share turbulance and domestic abuse to a certain extent, and both women never could be open and honest about who they each faced inside the mirror.

Yet the danger of allowing yourself to erase the distance needed to be a psychologist and effectively help your patient grow through healing is that the side effect could be devasting to your own affairs. The closer Lakshmi came to growing wings to fly on her own accord and stand on her own two feet, the closer Maggie came to watching her life spiral competely down the drain. The threads which connected them were a double-edge sword, as where on one hand a doctor is meant to heal and do no harm; the opposite is making yourself vulnerable to where the lines are too blurred to see who the patient is. The Story Hour is a domestic drama about two women from different walks of life whose path brings them into the forefront of each other’s awakening hour.

Fly in the Ointment: 

Although the randomness of the stronger words used in the novel are idly placed and randomly inclusive to the story, they are the little nettles of disappointment for me. I did not feel the words enhanced the storyline, nor the continuance of the character’s thoughts, if anything they felt like a simple way to express their emotions. I also felt a bit disconjointed from the dialogue and narrative passages, as one moment we are in the present and a second later we are in the middle of a flashback. I believe the effect was to be a continuing stream of conscienceness, but for some aspects of it, I felt muddled. As I wasn’t sure if I was still in the present, learning about the recent past, or ‘somewhere’ neither here nor there completely. There is a fair bit of crudeness as well, not as much as in crude humour but simply in crude ways of expressing certain things that the characters are attempting to reflect about themselves.

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This blog tour stop was courtesy of TLC Book Tours:

The Story Hour
by Thrity Umrigar
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Genres: Literary Fiction


Published by HarperCollins Publishers

on 19th August, 2015

Pages: 336

click-through to follow the blogosphere tour.TLC Book Tours | Tour Host

Earlier today, I hosted an Author Interview with Thrity Umrigar.

Previously I enjoyed the story Losing Touch by Sandra Hunter.

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See what I am hosting next:

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Comments make me smile! Let’s start a conversation! I appreciate your visit & look forward to your return! I do moderate the comment threads; do not worry if the comment is delayed in being seen! Drop back soon!

Reader Interactive Question:

What are your own thoughts about the connection between the books we read, the authors who pen them, and the unique bridge of connective thoughts which unite all of us together!?

{SOURCES: Cover art of “The Story Hour”, author photograph, book synopsis and the tour badge were all provided by TLC Book Tours and used with permission. Author Interview badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Bookish Events badge created by Jorie in Canva. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

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Posted Tuesday, 19 August, 2014 by jorielov in Adulterous Affair, ARC | Galley Copy, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, BlogTalkRadio, Bookish Discussions, Bout of Books, Disillusionment in Marriage, Divorce & Martial Strife, Family Drama, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Fly in the Ointment, Grief & Anguish of Guilt, Hindi Words & Phrases, Library Find, Life Shift, Literary Fiction, Literature of India, Medicated Against Will, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Modern Day, Psychiatric Facilities, Psychological Abuse, Realistic Fiction, Self-Harm Practices, Social Services, TLC Book Tours, Trauma | Abuse & Recovery, Vulgarity in Literature