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From the critically acclaimed author of America for Beginners, a wonderfully insightful, witty, and heart-piercing novel, set in Mumbai, about an impulsive American woman, her headstrong Indian mother-in-law, and the unexpected twists and turns of life that bond them.
“Lively and evocative, Mother Land is a deftly crafted exploration of identity and culture, with memorable and deeply human characters who highlight how that which makes us different can ultimately unite us.”—Amy Myerson, author of The Bookshop of Yesterdays and The Imperfects
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 is 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 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 complex women from very different cultures . . . who maybe have more in common than they realize
1. Rachel has difficulty adapting to a new community and new culture after moving to Mumbai. Have you
ever had similar experiences in your life? What helped you adjust?
2. One of the attributes Rachel found attractive in Dhruv was his strong sense of purpose and confidence.
How does Rachel rationalize her feminist values and her willingness for Dhruv to take charge?
3. What are some the everyday mundane acts that Rachel finds challenging in her new country?
4. How would you describe the relationship between Rachel and her mother-in-law, Swati?
5. How does Rachel's Jewish identity play into the story?
6. Throughout the novel, Rachel wrestles with cultural appreciation version cultural appropriation. As an
example, she does not approve of ex-pat Richard obsession with Indian culture. Can people take the
process of adapting to a new culture too far?
7. Why does Swati makes the decision to divorce her husband of forty years? How does her family react to
8. Rachel and Swati clash over the hiring of domestic help. Why is Rachel uncomfortable with having
outside help in her home?
9. Franqui chooses to tell the story by switching between and Rachel and Swati's perspectives each
chapter. Does this technique work well? Do you understand one woman more than the other?
10. How do each of the main characters, Rachel, Swati, and Dhruv, change throughout the course of the
Leah Franqui is a proud Philadelphian, and believes the city is far more than just cheese steaks.
Leah graduated from Yale University in 2009 with an intellectually useful and financially useless degree in Theater Studies. She traveled for a year trying to find herself, working on a farm in southern Spain, going on a Rubens fangirl trip to Belgium, and entertaining fellow train passengers in China. Returning to Philadelphia, she started working in non-profit theater to support her work as a playwright. In 2012 she left Philadelphia again, this time for Brooklyn, to attend graduate school at NYU-Tisch, where she received her masters in Dramatic Writing in 2014. In 2015 Leah moved to Mumbai, where she spent six years.
Leah has written seven full-length plays, one of which was performed in August of 2015 in New York and another of which received the 2013 Goldberg Play-writing award. Her work also includes four full-length screenplays, one of which was awarded the 2013 Alfred Sloan Foundation Screenwriting award, and a web series, viewable at https://www.tobyforproductions.com/after-ever-after and myriad articles for blogs and online publications.
Leah has worked as a line chef, a real estate agent, a sewing teacher, a tutor, an assistant, a marketing director, a grant writer, an editor, and recently, a dubbing artist, voicing the main character in a Croatian soap opera for the African market.
Now, Leah spends most of her time writing, in between traveling, cooking, reading, sewing her own clothing, and watching copious amounts of television. She is currently pursuing a PhD at Georgia State University in between working on novels. Her cat is absolutely no help in this whatsoever.