First Darling of the Morning: Selected Memories of an Indian Childhood Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0061451614
ISBN-10: 0061451614
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  • Length: 294 pages
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Page Flip: Enabled
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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.)
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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

Product Details

  • File Size: 708 KB
  • Print Length: 294 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins e-books (October 8, 2008)
  • Publication Date: October 6, 2009
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001FA0SE2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #199,980 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Selected memories" of her childhood in Bombay. The only child of Parsi parents, young Thrituma was very close to her father and his unmarried sister who lived with the family. Her mother was inclined to angry outbursts overheard by their gossipy neighbors. She attended Catholic schools, her teachers were Irish nuns and women with Portuguese surnames, presumably Goans..Most of the students were Catholics and Hindus, but there were a few Muslims. She mentioned only one other Parsi, a girl she competed with for the "Mad Parsi" title, each attempting to outdo the other thinking up outrageous pranks. As in Umrigar's novels. the reader feels part of the scene, present in the apartment as the child struggles to bring peace to the household and adapts to the ups and downs in her father's business. (At one point, her uncle, in business with her father, gives her his last few rupees to attend a movie with her friends.) Realizing she could never escape the apartment even if she became a successful Times of India journalist, she decides to escape to America, applying for grants to the Parsi community. She chooses a college in Ohio because of a Bob Dylan song.

I found two of her memories particularly interesting: the day she left her high school friends behind on the bus to join a college demonstration against Indra Gandhi's repressive policies, and was shocked find the policeman on duty was a Parsi friend of her father's (they're s a small sect, but apparently everywhere in the city) and an illuminating moment in English class. Thirtuma had read extensively in English literature, as well as Faulkner and Hemingway, but nothing of India's vast literature later than the Mahabaratha.
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