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The Weight of Heaven: A Novel (P.S.) by…
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The Weight of Heaven: A Novel (P.S.) (edition 2010)

by Thrity Umrigar

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3163035,147 (3.92)16
Member:bpompon
Title:The Weight of Heaven: A Novel (P.S.)
Authors:Thrity Umrigar
Info:Harper Perennial (2010), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 400 pages
Collections:DIGITAL
Rating:****
Tags:2012

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The Weight of Heaven by Thrity Umrigar

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A powerful novel about an American couple, devastated by the death of their young son, who move to India in hope of a new beginning only to be confronted with the real world that others inhabit.

Thrity Umrigar grew up in India and now lives in the United States. She has a unique talent for probing into her characters’ inner conflicts. Significantly, the characters about whom she writes are often ones involved in bridging cultural and economic gaps: servants and their employers or people living outside their native lands. Like many of us, some are people who want to “do right” by those less fortunate than themselves only to discover the complex, unpleasant motivations underneath their efforts. And they must also deal with the fact that their efforts may do more harm than good to those they set out to help.

In The Weight of Heaven, Frank and Ellie Benford are shattered by the death of their seven-year-old son, Benny. Although they had previously been very close, their attempts to deal with their grief has driven them apart. For no rational reason, Frank blames Ellie for the loss of Benny.

Seeking to regain their closeness, the couple moves to India where Frank becomes manager of a factory belonging to an international corporation, located in a small town near Mumbai. Ellie had been hopeful about the move but she soon discovers that India itself is not simply a passive setting for them to work out their problems, but a force that would impact their lives.
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  mdbrady | Sep 13, 2014 |
Wonderfully written story about a couple who loses a child and decides to move to India to give their marriage a chance to survive. While in India, the father becomes attached to an impoverished Indian child. He appears to be replacing the loss of his son which brings him down a path which he cannot recover from.

Gives a realistic look at how hard it is to lose a child and how the grief never abates-you just get better at hiding it. ( )
  sschaller | Jul 28, 2014 |
As a special treat for myself, I pulled this book off my shelf, I love Thrity Umrigar's books and The Weight of Heaven turned out to be an emotional experience. I did shed some tears and also got very angry.

Frank and Ellie Benton, living in Ann Arbor, Michigan lost their only child, Benny, to meningococcal infection. Frank is a business man for a company that sells medical products and Ellie is a therapist. When their boy dies, it brings havoc to their marriage. Frank blames Ellie for taking a short break from her sixteen hour stint of caring for their very sick son. His temperature was better before she collapsed from exhaustion and he was half way around the world on business. Ellie wants an escape from the constant grief and a new start that might help them to repair their marriage. She pushes hard for the move when Frank gets an offer from his company to manage a factory in Girbang, India. He didn’t like the idea at first but later on, he relents.

They meet Ramesh who was a bit older than Benny and lives in a small shack that came with the property that they were staying. Ramesh’s father, Prakash does the cooking and his mother, Edna does the cleaning for the Benton’s. Ramesh is a delightful, intelligent but limited in education and social experience. Frank quickly becomes attached to him. Ellie finds comfort with her new friends.

This book took a big turn about half way through. I was shocked and surprised at what happened. India’s class system is very present and Ellie is shocked at how poor the really poor are in India. There is spirituality, a rich appreciation of the cultural divide between the Western and India and a great deal of emotional torment in this story. The author, Thirty Umrigar is a master at creating emotionally powerful scenes and characters that are real and unforgettable.

I highly recommend this book to all who want understand the grieving process and want to learn more about India. ( )
  Carolee888 | May 21, 2014 |
An absolutely beautiful novel about a couple who is grieving for the death of their only son and how they deal with their loss. Also about the gap between rich and poor in India, corruption, and the high cost of the choices people make. Highly recommended. ( )
  mynovelthoughts | Jul 22, 2012 |
This book took me longer to get into than Umrigar's previous book - "The Space Between Us", but eventually the story of parents who lost their son to illness settled in. Frank's decision to try to replace their son with the child of their servants leads to unforeseen consequences. ( )
  riversong | Apr 1, 2012 |
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For Anne Reid and Cyndi Howard, Peace and Love
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"When Frank and Ellie Benton lose their only child, seven-year-old Benny, to a sudden illness, the perfect life they had built is shattered. Filled with wrenching memories, their Ann Arbor home becomes unbearable, and their marriage founders. But an unexpected job half a world away offers them an opportunity to start again. Life in Girbaug, India, holds promise - and peril - when Frank befriends Ramesh, a bright, curious boy who quickly becomes the focus of the grieving man's attentions. Haunted by memories of his dead son, Frank is consumed with making his family right - a quest that will lead him down an ever-darkening path with stark repercussions." "Filled with satisfyingly real characters and glowing with local color, The Weight of Heaven is a rare glimpse of a family and a country struggling under pressures beyond their control. In a devastating look at cultural clashes and divides, Umrigar illuminates how slowly we recover from unforgettable loss, how easily good intentions can turn evil, and how far a person will go to build a new world for those he loves."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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