Souls In House Arrest!
Sita Brahmachari – the British author with an origin in eastern Indian Province of Bengal, and one of the most interesting and important voices in children’s books today – has published her new book, ‘When Secrets Set Sail’. The background of the novel is a historic Nanny’s Home in East London. In the times of the Colonial Era, the British families, while returning from India, used to bring nannies to Britain. The Indian nannies used to take care of their children during long voyages. The Indian women were known to have loved those children as their own! Unfortunately, they were unable to return to India, in case they lost their jobs upon their arrival in Britain. The House of the Ayahs was established in 1891 to provide shelter to those unfortunate Indian women. As the number of residents increased, the Home was shifted to a bigger house at Hackney in London. Some of the residents of the Home could never return to India, and they breathed their last, there!
Sita’s story is based in modern Britain. The plot, loosely, mentions about a British family who has adopted two little girls, Imtiaz and Usha. The house in which they live was where The House of the Ayahs was established in the past. The spirits of the deceased nannies, who had died there, would narrate to the children the stories of their past, and requested them to arrange the release of their souls. They also inform Usha and Immy that the home is full of history and secrets, as it was The House of the Ayahs many years ago for those nannies, who could not return to India. The spirit of Usha’s Bengali grandmother Kali Ma, one of those nannies who had died there, made a promise to them that she could not keep the secrets and live with pain until the girls arrange their release. As the house slowly fills up with such spirits, who were visible only to Usha and Imtiaz, the girls realise that they would have more to save than just one grandmother’s ghost. The novel is all about how they set the secrets of generations free and save their home…
Sita was born in Derby in 1966, to an Indian father from Kolkata and an English mother from the Lake District. While her mother was a nurse, her father was a doctor. She acquired a BA in English Literature and an MA in Arts Education. She has dedicated the novel to her parents. Sita had won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize for her debut novel ‘Artichoke Hearts’.
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