I’m delighted to be participating in the paperback launch celebrations for Eden Gardens by Louise Brown which was published by Headline Review on 21st April 2016. Eden Gardens is also available in ebook. Eden Gardens is available from W H Smith, Amazon, Waterstones, directly from the publisher and from all good bookshops.
Today, Louise tells us all about one of her favourite characters – Pushpa.
Calcutta, the 1940s. In a ramshackle house, streets away from the grand colonial mansions of the British, live Maisy, her Mam and their ayah, Pushpa.
Whiskey-fuelled and poverty-stricken, Mam entertains officers in the night – a disgrace to British India; all hopes are on beautiful Maisy to restore their good fortune. But Maisy’s more at home in the city’s forbidden alleyways, eating bazaar food and speaking Bengali with Pushpa, than dancing in glittering ballrooms with potential husbands.
Then one day Maisy’s tutor falls ill. His son stands in. Poetic, handsome and ambitious for an independent India, Sunil Banerjee promises Maisy the world. So begins a love affair that will cast her future, for better and for worse. Just as the Second World War strikes and the empire begins to crumble…
This is the other side of British India. A dizzying, scandalous, dangerous world, where race, class and gender divide and rule.
Pushpa The Star of the Show
A Guest Post by Louise Brown
I adore Pushpa, the Bengali sex worker who becomes a domestic servant for numerous British people. She is wise, smart and caring, and although she’s suffered countless setbacks, she always bounces back, a bit bruised, but ready to move forward. I think her resilience is rooted in her early life; in the loving relationships with her parents and siblings. She carries that love with her, even when she is an old woman. And she repays it too, so that when everything is ruined, when her parents are dead, her sister drowned, and her brother disabled, it is Pushpa who comes to the rescue and saves what is left of her family. That she does it by working in a brothel is a measure of her determination and strength.
I’ve met many women like Pushpa in the brothels of Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi and Dhaka. They sell sex not only to escape poverty themselves, but to support entire impoverished families in the countryside. Their earnings buy food and shelter for ailing parents, for younger brothers and sisters, and sometimes for their own children too. I wanted Pushpa to speak for these women – women who are strong despite their day-to-day humiliations and the awful stigma they face, and who find joy in an often difficult life.
About Louise Brown
Image Courtesy of Aimee Spinks
Louise Brown has lived in Nepal and travelled extensively in India, sparking her enduring love of South Asia. She was a Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Asian Studies at the University of Birmingham, where she worked for nearly twenty years. In research for her critically acclaimed non-fiction books she’s witnessed revolutions and even stayed in a Lahore brothel with a family of traditional courtesans. Eden Gardens is her debut novel.
Louise has three grown-up children and lives in Birmingham.
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