Mother Land by Leah Franqui

THE BLURB

When Rachel Meyer, a thirtysomething foodie from New York, agrees to move to Mumbai with her Indian-born husband, Dhruv, she knows some culture shock is inevitable. Blessed with a curious mind and an independent spirit, Rachel is determined to learn her way around the hot, noisy, seemingly infinite metropolis she now calls home. 

But the ex-pat American’s sense of adventure is sorely tested when her mother-in-law, Swati, suddenly arrives from Kolkata—a thousand miles away—alone, with an even more shocking announcement: she’s left her husband of more than forty years and moving in with them. Nothing the newlyweds say can budge the steadfast Swati, and as the days pass, it becomes clear she is here to stay—an uneasy situation that becomes more difficult when Dhruv is called away on business. 

Suddenly these two strong-willed women from such very different backgrounds, who see life so differently, are alone together in a home that each is determined to run in her own way—a situation that ultimately brings into question the very things in their lives that had seemed perfect and permanent . . . with results neither of them expect.

Heartfelt, charming, deeply insightful and wise, Mother Land introduces us to two very different women from very different cultures . . . who maybe aren’t so different after all.

WHAT I LEARNED:

Aint that the truth?! All that youthful confidence. All of adult life in front of you. Not much idea of the curve balls coming your way!

Tea – the drink of the resilient when you can’t go straight to the gin!

This right here really stopped me in my tracks. Do we hide our personhood or do we try and show our kids the best version of ourselves? And actually is this what makes us a good parent or would it be better to be truly authentically us, warts and all, to show balance and reality and not set expectations of a false perfection almost impossible for them to aspire to?

The idea that love is an act of will is rather a beautiful one I think. We can choose to love people. And every single day we can wake up and chose to love people all over again. How much richer would life be?

Another thought provoker. I think, for me anyway, that when life is permanently happening TO me that is when I can feel at my lowest. It’s true that all of us have to have a certain resilience to get through the days when we feel life is happening TO us, but it’s also important that we find, or create, pockets of time where we are mindfully and actively participating in life, no matter what is happening externally around us.

This passage instantly made me think of lockdown…but then I realised that reading should always feel like a distraction from reality. Isn’t that the point? Reading should always be an escape from the everyday.

Modern technology, that double edged sword. Whilst it’s wonderful that if we have a random thought during the day we can share it with a loved one, it’s also true that it’s no replacement for that very human connection, for sitting at a table and sharing a meal, or a cup of tea, for looking someone in the eye, or a hug. Never forget to make time for these things. Diary it in if you have to. It’s that important.

This quote made me think of lockdown too. And mental health in general. I found it really interesting how inventive people got at finding a way to live purposefully during Covid restrictions, and how it taught us that having purpose didn’t mean endeavouring to change the world. Tik Tok videos to make people smile. Baking for a neighbour. Sharing pictures of a walk in your local patch. I think maybe we are starting to forget these things as we go back into the world and start living big again. Which makes me a little sad if I’m honest.

Stop and re-read that…we all have it within us to do more than we think…

Courage. Pure and simple. I wonder how different the world would be if we all had this kind of courage?

I can only speak about this from a small town perspective and gossip can be lethal in a small town. Not only can it destroy lives and reputations, but it can cause people to end their lives. It’s like the ultimate dystopian game of Chinese whispers, with the story changing slightly at each retelling until no one is sure of the truth anymore and lives can be changed forever. Why not choose kindness. instead? Always. Why not choose to go to the person being talked about directly, and only them, and ask if they are ok, if there is anything you can do for them?

This just made me smile! I think my mother would agree!

Again…courage. Pure and simple. This goes back to life happening TO you, or you taking control. Life will always happen TO you to an extent, but your response is all yours. Very difficult to remember at times but stop, breathe, and remember you can do this! Choose where, and how, you land.

The themes in this book are beautiful. Back to purpose here. I promise you no matter how hard it is to see your purpose right now you matter very much to someone and you maybe don’t even realise it.

This! Isn’t this is one of the greatest things we can hope others say about our lives?

Don’t ever forget that your choices are yours to be made, and yours alone. Yes you can be part of a team or a partnership where discussions can be had and advice given, but keep the control over your choices. Your life is yours, and it matters, and the way you live it is up to you. How great would it be near the end to look back and say “well it may not all have gone exactly to plan but it was mine and I chose it!”?

Being heard. The validation that we matter. That our thoughts and opinions matter. That we aren’t invisible. Find the people who hear you and keep them close!

This made something twang deep down inside of me. The lucky ones amongst us still have our mother’s to call when it’s all falling down around our ears. And the lucky ones of us get to experience that unconditional bond. And though it can be fraught at times, and far from perfect, or not how you think it should be, unconditional means just that, unconditional. You can disagree. You can “have words”. You can be very different people. But ultimately that bond and love are forever.

I think this one should just be filed under “if you know you know”.

It sneaks up on you alright…just like the moment they are no longer a baby, then no longer a toddler, next they are at school, then high school and before you know it they are out on their own in the world. And if you blink you miss it.

Beautiful. I love Leah Franqui’s ability to put into words the things that matter in a way that not only stops you in your reading tracks, but makes you want to photograph the page and share it.

In my house this is known as the kitchen floor sob. Occassionally in the bath. Sometimes , regardless of how strong you are, it’s the only thing for it. And it is truly cathartic.

Isn’t it true that looking, really looking, into someones eyes can tell you so much more and be so much more intimate than a kiss. It’s possibly even easier to distract with a kiss than it is to sit and really look into someone’s eyes. Although the kissing part can be fun too!

Don’t let fear hold you back. Go out and get it…what’s the worsed that could happen? And would the regret of the “what ifs” be bigger than the fear of trying?

Taking ownership of your own purpose is truly a powerful thing. The life you live is down to you, and while, if you are lucky, you have people who care around you, ultimately that sense of purpose comes from within. Being needed and felling “purposeful” can also feel like 2 different things. No matter how aimless you may feel I can almost guarantee your life already has purpose, and you may just have to take that mindful, quiet moment to recognise it.

If you are running and escaping what is it that you are trying to escape from? It may be a cliche, but it’s a cliche because it’s true…it doesn’t matter how far you run, all the things that are in your head go with you – same worries, different place. But if the thing you are running from is something external the ability to change that without running is also within you. Find a place where you can be authentically you. Find your people. And build the rest.

Don’t run…stay and build.

Find and embrace the adventure in your future because who knows what could happen?

This run of quotes all speak to the same thing. Don’t hide from your life. The power is yours to build a life you love, and while, inevitably, it won’t always be perfect, it will be perfectly and authetically yours.

Do we really not know them at all? Or do we just start taking them for granted, stop paying attention and connecting, and give more of our attention to the getting to know the stranger?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
(screenshot from https://www.leahfranqui.com/)

OTHER BOOKS BY LEAH FRANQUI

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