Fiction from Kilpack and Debuter Mehta | Xpress Reviews

Week ending April 7, 2017

Kilpack, Josi S. The Vicar’s Daughter. Shadow Mountain. (Proper Romance). Apr. 2017. 315p. ISBN 9781629722801. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9781629735047. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
vicarsdaughter040717At 20, Cassandra Wilton is ready to take on the world, or at least her small part of it in her village of Leagrave. And though life here is a far cry from London, there is society and possibilities. But as the youngest daughter of the Vicar and Mrs. Wilton, Cassie can’t debut until her next oldest sister, Lenora, has made her own match. Yet with her shyness and anxieties, at 23, Lenora can barely leave the house let alone engage the interests of a suitor. Still, a suitor does present himself. Mr. Evan Glenside, the recently proclaimed heir presumptive to his great-uncle, is new to the village and even newer to the ways of gentlefolk. Having come across Evan in a garden at a ball, Lenora is finally thinking of an attachment. Cassie sees her opportunity, but she needs to move the situation forward. She decides to write to Mr. Glenside and sign Lenora’s name. What could be simpler?
Verdict Kilpack turns Cyrano on its head. Her characters solidly acknowledge the power of faith and redemption yet are able to follow their own moral compass. Another gentle winner from the author of A Heart Revealed.—Bette-Lee Fox, Library Journal

Mehta, Rahul. No Other World. Harper. Feb. 2017. 304p. ISBN 9780062020468. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062199119. F
[DEBUT] In this debut novel (following Quarantine), western New York in 1985 and western India in 1998 are introduced as prolog, with both time and place connected by the 12-going on-13-year-old and 26-year-old versions of Kiran Shah, whose coming-of-age as a bicultural gay Indian American is the focus of the story. Kiran, a quiet boy with few friends, inappropriately obsessed with his “all-American” neighbors, is one-quarter of his four-person family: father Nishit worries over his strained relationships with his left-behind Indian relatives, mother Shanti questions her American life as a result of her arranged marriage, and older sister Preeti suffers horrific abuse that eventually leads her away from her cultural roots. A postcollege breakdown sends Kiran to his father’s ancestral home on the other side of the world, where he develops a relationship with a teenage hijra (a member of India’s community of trans women whose blessings are considered auspicious at a child’s birth). The journey becomes the unexpected catalyst toward Kiran’s healing and his (immediate) family’s reconciliation.
Verdict As exquisitely as Mehta sustains his mellifluous language throughout, his time-hopping narrative (a lifetime condensed into a single sentence, non sequitur mentions of what didn’t happen, coy references to events yet to come) ultimately proves distracting and disappointing both. [See Prepub Alert, 8/8/16.]–Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC

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