An uplifting, gloriously humane read
Saturday 22 Nov 2014
Great to see this review of Snowfed Waters in the current Saffron Walden Hub Magazine by Jo Burch, the convenor of the wonderful Words in Walden literary festivals
… Another super story, is Jane Wilson-Howarth's Snowfed Waters, her fictional sequel to her non-fiction book, A Glimpse of Eternal Snows. Jane, who is based in Cambridge, spoke at Words in Walden a few years ago about her very moving experiences in Nepal on which A Glimpse is based. And it is immediately clear when you read Snowfed Waters that it is shot through with cultural insights and anecdotes which could only have come from personal experience.
The story is related through five voices - Sonia, the English woman travelling to Nepal, Rekraj, a young Nepali man who has been appointed to look after her; Guliya Tharu, a Nepali village woman, Regimental Sergeant-Major Bom Bahadur Gurung, and Moti, a Nepali teenage girl. Much of the humour in the story comes from their often perplexed accounts of each other's reactions to particular circumstances, highlighting their false cultural assumptions. Rekraj, for example reports on the following exchange between himself and Sonia:-
' "Where exactly is England in America?"
She is angry when she answers. "England is NOT in America. England, Britain actually, is very, very different!"
I do not know how I have offended her. I feel I should apologise but I do not see what the problem is. Perhaps she has tasted some alcoholic drinks...'
Very quickly one warms to each of these characters and the story, which becomes unexpectedly dramatic and is full of vivid local description, unfolds through their joint narrative. This is a really lovely, uplifting, gloriously humane read.