The Weight of Heaven
Harper, Feb 2 2010, $14.99
Following the death of their seven years old son from meningitis, psychologist Ellie Benton persuades her spouse Frank that he should accept a position to run a HerbalSolutions factory in Girbaug, India as it will be easier to move past their grief if they leave Ann Arbor. He agrees.
In the small village, Ellie adapts rather easily working at a clinic while Frank remains filled with grief and drifts away from his wife. His only solace is tutoring his housekeeper’s son Ramesh, which is resented by the lad’s father Prakesh. Meanwhile Ellie and Frank are on different sides of the issue of the trees as she defends the locals’ use and he claims his company owns them under a lease agreement with the government. Investigative reporter Nandita meets Ellie and they become friends, which further alienates the American woman from her mate. Tragedy seems imminent as hostilities in the village over the trees grow.
This is an entertaining tale of two kindhearted caring people whose outlook is different; as one adjusts while the other turns into the Ugly American who can only buy friendship with a replacement local child. The story line is fast-paced for the most part although a flashback to the Benton courtship feels like unnecessary padding as it adds nothing since the audience knows the couple is educated and liberal until a year or so passes in India. Still readers will appreciate this fine tale as the Benton couple serve as a microcosm of capitalist interests with opposite directions in how each adapts to residing in Girbaug.