In the Story Hour, an arrange marriage finds Lakshmi, a woman from a small town in India, working in her husband's restaurant in the American midwest. She is exhausted, unhappy, isolated. She attempts suicide and comes under the care of Maggie, a psychologist and African American.
Maggie is married to an Indian, Sudhir, who came as a student and stayed on to become a professor and American citizen.
Maggie and Lakshmi are from different cultures, have different family dynamics but their similarities as women, indeed as human beings transcends the patient doctor relationship and finds them becoming friends.
Gradually understanding grows and with Maggie's help and guidance economic disparity between the two diminishes.
But when secrets are revealed both judge each other unfairly in the most part because, despite their affection for each other, it's impossible for each to overcome the biases ingrained by culture.
The relationship seems irreparably damaged but one woman is prepared to risk everything for make it right again.
Author Thrity Umrigar really shines a light on how our background and different cultures frame the way we see ourselves, our fellow human beings and the world around us. It's also a realistic, compassionate and hopeful look at the lives of millions of immigrant women from third world countries who come to reside in the west.
The story has depth, humour, passion and compassion and remarkable insight. A true novel for the twenty-first century.