The Direction of the Wind by Mansi Shah
Published: February 1st 2023 by Lake Union Publishing
Rating: ★★★★ (4)
Genre: Adult // Contemporary Fiction
Quick Thoughts: A moving, heartfelt novel that awes as it explores finding yourself in a world where you thought you couldn’t.
About The Book:
A heartfelt story that spans continents and generations, about a young woman who searches for answers about a mother she barely remembers.
Sophie Shah was six when she learned her mother, Nita, had died. For twenty-two years, she shouldered the burden of that loss. But when her father passes away, Sophie discovers a cache of hidden letters revealing a shattering truth: her mother didn’t die. She left.
Nita Shah had everything most women dreamed of in her hometown of Ahmedabad, India—a loving husband, a doting daughter, financial security—but in her heart, she felt like she was living a lie. Fueled by her creative ambitions, Nita moved to Paris, the artists’ capital of the world—even though it meant leaving her family behind. But once in Paris, Nita’s decision and its consequences would haunt her in ways she never expected.
Now that Sophie knows the truth, she’s determined to find the mother who abandoned her. Sophie jets off to Paris, even though the impulsive trip may risk her impending arranged marriage. In the City of Light, she chases lead after lead that help her piece together a startling portrait of her mother. Though Sophie goes to Paris to find Nita, she may just also discover parts of herself she never knew.
When I was offered the chance to read The Direction Of The Wind, I had just finished reading a similar book (about a mother and daughter reconnecting, with ties also to India) and because I enjoyed that so much, it was an immediate yes.
When Sophie was a young child, her mother passed away. For so long, it was just her and her dad against the world. Whilst all her friends branched out of adolescence and got married as dutifully presumed of them, Sophie stayed. She spent the time with her dad, wanting to hold on to the last piece of parental love she had. After he passes away, whilst her Aunts are packing away his things—something Sophie can’t bring herself to do—she overhears them talking about her arranging a marriage for her with an available suitor, glad that someone will still choose her even though she should’ve been married long ago. But when they talk of her mother as if she’s still alive, Sophie is visibly confused. And when she does some digging into old things in her father’s room, she finds that her mother, Nita, might still be out there. Alive—the missing half of her heart desiring to find her.
Nita had everything she should ever want: a husband, daughter, the content feeling of togetherness in her hometown that so many people wish for. But something within her always felt unsettled, as if she was meant to be someone—somewhere—else. Following a blind intuition, Nita swept away to Paris, France, to a culture and atmosphere she felt her heart truly belonged, seeking the kind of creativity the city oozed with. But her dream reality came with a price. Not only the pain of leaving her family behind, but the ways in which the domino effect would fall into every other thing that followed could never have been anticipated by Nita. And as Sophie jets off to Paris—putting her upcoming arranged marriage in jeopardy—she searches leads and clues for her mother. But when the fragments come together to paint a portrait of the mother she thought she knew, it’s not just a changed person she’s seeking to find—but herself, too.
Overall, The Direction Of The Wind swept me away to a world of intrigue, tugs on the heartstrings and raw, poignant characters that made for easy reading. My heart ached for Sophie and Nita, for the lives they wanted and the feelings they felt, through disaster and love and all the inbetweens. This was above all a moving, heartfelt novel that awes as it explores finding yourself in a world where you thought you couldn’t be who you are at your core, and what that means for those you love. A beautiful four-star novel.
About The Author
Mansi Shah is a writer who lives in Los Angeles. She was born in Toronto, Canada, was raised in the midwestern United States, and studied at universities in America, Australia, and England. When she’s not writing, she’s traveling and exploring different cultures near and far, experimenting on a new culinary creation, or trying to improve her tennis game.