A Fine Balance and Immortals of Meluha can be found online) and I'm really enjoying their varied style of writing as well as the subject matters. All three books have focused on completely different subjects, but yet have India as an integral part of the story. A Fine Balance tells the story of various people around the time of Indira Gandhi's Emergency in India, The Immortals of Meluha talks about Hindu Mythology and how Lord Shiva came to be, whereas The Secret Daughter talks about the story of a young girl, Asha, and how her life pans out after her mother hands her over for adoption to a small orphanage in India.
For most cultures, the idea of female infanticide, the killing of female babies after they are born, is unthinkable and inhumane. Unfortunately for Indians, the idea that males are superior to women and that female babies are unwanted are extremely commonplace, more so (but not limited to) amongst the illiterate in the slums and the villages. Gowda manages to tackle this subject beautifully, as she does the subject of adoption, the feelings of the mother giving up her child, the emotions of the Mother adopting one as well as those of the child involved. For a simple book that is a very quick read, Gowda in fact does a remarkable job tackling a lot of emotional issues in the book that really make you feel for the characters. Apart from a few certain instances, the story line is completely believable and flows quite smoothly.
I am reluctant to get into the details of this book as I don't want to give too much of the story line away. I can tell you this much though- the story follows Asha, Asha's birth mother, and Asha's adoptive family through a span of over twenty years, and beautifully wraps up at the end with a tearful ending- Yes, the book did succeed in making me cry, which in itself is quite a feat. In a review for the book, I read someone describe the book as "Mom-lit" which I guess is probably a good way to describe it- Mothers will love this book. But to classify it as "chick-lit" will be unfair for all the men who might want to understand more about the culture of India in general or even about adoption.
All in all, The Secret Daughter is a great book, a fairly quick read, and I highly recommend it.