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First Darling of the Morning: Selected Memories of an Indian Childhood Paperback – October, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 294 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (October 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 8172234635
  • ISBN-13: 978-8172234638
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,123,317 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Freelance journalist Umrigar alternates between sweet and biting accounts of her middle-class Parsi upbringing in 1960s and 1970s Bombay. With a mixture of rawness and warmth, she recalls moments from her tumultuous childhood through her teenage years, and finally into her early 20s when she leaves India for the U.S. She describes her mother's strictness with her and other children (her mother doesn't think twice to strike disobedient kids with a cane), tempering these scenes with memories of the tight bond with her father as well as her Aunt Mehroo's unflappable love. As she encounters worker strikes and student protests, she begins to understand class differences and the gap between her privileged, private school background and India's poverty. In the end, Umrigar's memoir is colorful and moving. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* A melancholy mood suffuses Indian author Umrigar’s eloquent coming-of-age memoir (after If Today Be Sweet, 2007). Born in Bombay to middle-class Parsi parents, smart, precocious Umrigar spent much of her childhood feeling out of place. She was very close to her gentle father and her beloved aunt, but her mother was menacing and cruel, frequently mocking her and beating her with a switch. Umrigar’s life changed when she met Jesse, a forward-thinking—and rebellious—young woman five years her senior, who introduced her to the wonders of literature and art. Umrigar soaked it all in, even shunning her family’s privileged existence after reading Irving Stone’s Lust for Life (1934), a novel based on the life of Vincent Van Gogh. Umrigar’s upbringing in an apolitical family left her unprepared for the passion she felt after participating in a demonstration against the government. A sense of restlessness, combined with relentless family discord, fed her desire to escape to the U.S. The memoir ends with Umrigar at 21, departing for America, where she now works as a journalist and associate professor of English at Case Western Reserve University. But she has never forgotten her native land, brilliantly rendered in three critically acclaimed novels and now in this latest bracingly honest and bittersweet memoir. --Allison Block --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

The characters in this book are well developed and interesting.
Millie
Her story of growing up in the Bombay of the '60s and '70s is at once familiar and exotic, life-affirming and heartbreaking.
Carol Mathis
I can't recommend it highly enough; I only wish there was more to read.
skrishna

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Pink Roses on January 23, 2009
Format: Paperback
After reading "The Space Between Us" I went on the search for more books written by Ms.Umrigar. First Darling of the Morning is spellbinding - it just gets under your skin and every time you are forced to put the book down you can't wait to pick it back up to find out what will happen. She is remarkably candid and honest about her family and herself. I appreciated her self-awareness and willingness to reveal her weaknesses and motivations. Her descriptions of herself and her family members are so vivid you feel that you know them and when the book ends you are left wishing there was more. Regardless of race, geography, culture, religion we are all linked by our humanity. Thrity Umrigar's work makes the world a smaller and more compassionate place.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By skrishna VINE VOICE on March 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
First Darling of the Morning is a series of glimpses into author Thrity Umrigar's childhood, growing up in Bombay at a time when the country of India was still new and unstable. The stories start at a very young age with some of Umrigar's earliest memories and continue until she is twenty years old and leaving India for the great uncertainty of the United States.

This isn't a solid memoir, though; there are gaps in between each story, sometimes of a few days, sometimes of a few years. It allows the author to pick and choose which of her memories she wants to share with the reader. Sometimes they are humorous and sometimes they are incredibly painful. Each is a part of a larger story: the tale of Umrigar's coming of age in an uncertain time.

Though First Darling of the Morning is a memoir, it reads like literary fiction. This is the perfect book for those people who want to read more nonfiction but have trouble with writing styles or pacing. The book itself is relatively short and the words flow like a smoothly moving water; Umrigar's writing is simply beautiful. She writes with such longing, in some ways desperate to once again be the child she left behind, to correct all those mistakes she made. However, there is also wisdom behind her words, the realization that she can never return.

Her words also hold great passion. Umrigar portrays what it was to be a conflicted youth in Bombay at a time of unrest. There is no preaching here about what India was or what it has become; it is simply memories, thoughts and observations from someone who lived at a turbulent time. In some ways, India was coming of age at the same time that Umrigar was. And that's what this is at its core: a coming-of-age story. It has all the pain of what it is to grow up, to be a teenager.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By StrongWomenInspire on February 23, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I picked this book up at our local library, intrigued by the author's name and by the location, Mumbai, birthplace of our precious grandchildren. I decided I should read more and sat down to read for thirty minutes. HOURS later, I looked at the clock amazed by how much time had passed while I had been transported to Mumbai in my mind through the gift of the author, Thrity Umrigar. I loved this book completely! It is a treasure to be owned. I may have to buy a second book, just so I have one to loan to my friends. It's THAT terrific.
This author is not only a master of words and language, she is also a deeply perceptive human being who captures the essence of human relationships in ways that inspire and uplift the reader.
If you take the time to buy and read this book,
you won't regret it. Give yourself this gift!
We are so lucky to have access to her work!
Thank you Thrity. My life is enriched by your work.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By JKL on November 30, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book after reading and falling in love with her fictional work, _The Space Between Us._ I've read many books by Indian authors (Rohinton Mistry, Amitav Ghosh, Jhumpa Lahiri, Kiran Desai) and am not sure why Umrigar isn't as well-known as these other authors (yet). _First Darling of Morning_ is a book about growing up in Bombay. I enjoyed it because it gives a wonderful snapshot of what life in Bombay was/is like, but also because her book is so real. She writes honestly about many topics that are taboo and sometimes avoided in Indian literature, such as unhappy marriages, conflicts with in-laws, the long-term effects of tuberculosis, and class divisions.

I think this book would speak to anyone interested in India (especially Bombay) or about growing up. Definitely one of the better books I have read about the struggles of adolescence, and the conflict between being what one "should" be versus what one dreams of being.

Loved it. I'll be diving into _Bombay Time_ or _If Today Be Sweet_ next. Spread the word.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on December 12, 2008
Format: Paperback
Thrity Umrigar, author of best selling novels, The Space Between Us and I Today Be Sweet, is a Parsi who was born and raised in the Hindu city of Bombay (Mumbai), India. Parsis are Indians of Persian decent whose ancestors migrated to India from Iran over 1000 years ago. In this memoir she takes a reflective look at her own childhood and upbringing - from her earliest memories until she left home for grad school in the United States at twenty-one.

Thrity's family, like most of the Parsi families she knew in the 1960s and 1970s, were educated and middle-class. She was sent to a Catholic girls school run by nuns. As she notes at the beginning of her memoir, she is of a generation of Indians who were more familiar with the songs from "The Sound of Music" than with the traditional sitar music of their country. Yet she has friends and acquaintances from a variety of Indian backgrounds, Hindu, Muslin, Anglo-Indian, Christian/Catholic and atheists. It provided a rich tapestry of culture.

On the other hand, Thrity was an only child whose mother was often harsh and unstable. She also shared her home with her father's sister who was always kind and loving, a father who was often too busy at work to pay much attention to home life, and her father's brother's family (uncle, aunt and cousin) who lived just across the hall in their building. She is very candid about her relationships with each of these relatives, often revealing familial information that is frequently difficult to share.

During much of her adolescence, Thrity rebelled in a variety of ways - getting into trouble at school and becoming involved in political demonstrations. She was known in her school as the "mad Parsi" - a title she purposely cultivated by acting out in a somewhat wild manner.
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More About the Author

Thrity Umrigar is the best-selling author of the novels Bombay Time, The Space Between Us, If Today Be Sweet and The Weight of Heaven. She is also the author of the memoir, First Darling of the Morning. Her books have been translated into many languages and published in numerous countries.

The Space Between Us was a finalist for the PEN/Beyond Margins award, while her memoir was a finalist for the Society of Midland Authors award. Thrity was recently awarded the Cleveland Arts Prize for midcareer artists.

Thrity was born in Bombay, India and came to the U.S. when she was 21. As a Parsi child attending a Catholic school in a predominantly Hindu country, sh had the kind of schizophrenic and cosmopolitan childhood that has served her well in her life as a writer. Accused by teachers and parents alike of being a daydreaming, absent-minded child, she grew up lost in the fictional worlds created by Steinbeck, Hemingway, Woolf and Faulkner. She would emerge long enough from these books to create her own fictional and poetic worlds. Encouraged by her practical-minded parents to get an undergraduate degree in business, Thrity survived business school by creating a drama club and writing, directing and acting in plays. Her first short stories, essays and poems were published in national magazines and newspapers in India at age fifteen.

After earning a M.A. in journalism Thrity worked for several years working as an award-winning reporter, columnist and magazine writer in America. She also earned a Ph.D. in English. In 1999, Thrity won a one-year Nieman Fellowship to Harvard, which is given to mid-career journalists.

While at Harvard, Thrity wrote Bombay Time. The publication and success of the novel allowed her to make a career change and in 2002 she accepted a teaching position at Case Western Reserve University, where she teaches creative writing, journalism and literature. She also does occasional freelance pieces for national publications and has written for the Washington Post's and the Boston Globe's book pages.


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