A Lucky Life: Where Earth Meets Water

It always amazes me how some authors are able to capture colour, movement and feeling, to tell a story so rich and real. Today’s review from Jennie Diplock-Storer tells us of a story that captures all these things and more. Here’s her thoughts on Where Earth Meets Water by Pia Padukone (Harlequin)…

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Pai Padukone’s debut novel, Where Earth Meets Water, takes us to dichotomous parts of the world and introduces us to the lives of four intrinsically linked people. Pia has written a novel that successfully wraps the reader around it’s finger, and all within the first few paragraphs.

where earth meets waterTelling the story of Karom Seth involves more than Karom alone. His life holds several traumatic events, some of which we are made aware of very early in the book. Despite this trauma, if fact almost as a result of it, Karom appears to have lived a very lucky life. As a college student in New York, he remains behind on campus when his class attends a conference at Tower One on September 11th, 2001. That day the world is changed for ever by two planes hitting the Twin Towers. Karom, of course, survives, but loses many friends from his student group.

As a senior at college, with his final exams coming up, a family reunion is organised at the coastal town of Bhupal in India. Seth relatives are flying and travelling from all parts of the world and Karom is excited at the prospect of meeting all of these blood kin, many of whom he has never met before. As fate would have it, he delays his arrival in India by one day, so as to complete his study. When he gets to the airport he finds flights to India cancelled but can find no information as to why. Phone calls to family members are unanswered and he ultimately returns to college.

After a time, Karom is notified by a cousin that a “freak wave”, emanating from an underwater earthquake has hit coastal areas of Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka & India, decimating the region. His parents and most of his relatives are lost in this disaster.

Fortunately, Karom’s room-mate, Lloyd, is there for him during this time. He hears the nightmares and Karom’s cries in the night and supports him as best he can. This relationship is a pleasure for the reader to share. The two men become best friends and years later, Karom is to be Lloyd’s best man in his wedding to Malina.

We are introduced to Gita, Karom’s long term girlfriend. Although she wasn’t in Karom’s life during these earth-shattering events, she is certainly impacted by them. They are a very happy couple and enjoy their life together – all but for one behaviour pattern of Karom’s. He plays, with worrying regularity, what he terms “a game”. We see an example of this ‘game’ in the first few pages of the book…

While waiting at a train station in India with Gita, Karom edges himself closer and closer to the edge of the platform until finally, he jumps down onto the track and walks up the train line. It takes some time before Gita realises what he has done and drama ensues as Karom returns to the platform unharmed. His words of reassurance to Gita fall on deaf ears, as she is scared and sick of the game, behaviour which she only sees ending in tragedy.

new york trainWe learn that in New York Karom often stands as close as possible to the edge of the station platform and also plays “chicken” with cars on the road. It appears that in escaping death, dodging terrorists and earthquakes, Karom feels he is either invincible or he is tempting fate.

Where Earth Meets Water is written in components dedicated to the major characters involved in Karom’s world.

We start in India, where Gita and Karom are staying with Gita’s Ammama, her Grandmother. Gita shares her anxieties about Karom’s behaviour to Ammama and Ammama herself sets upon the problem in her own way. There is much love and colour here and we are fortunate to be gifted  by the author, Ammama’s story.

We learn about Lloyd’s relationship with Karom also, how Karom’s fears have influenced their friendship.

Gita’s story shares with us the complexities and vulnerabilities involved in being in a long term relationship with Karom. What does this mean to her? How is his fears and behaviour affecting them as a couple?

As a reader I was grabbed by Where Earth Meets Water in the first paragraphs. Padukone writes with colour, melody, vibrations and deeply exposed emotions. Many sections of the book are pure prose. We, the reader, are where the characters are, at any given moment. On occasions I found myself holding my breath, unable to turn pages fast enough. At other times I was wary moving on, scared to travel with a character on the path they had chosen.

There are phrases of pure beauty, with Padukone having the gift of putting on paper movement and touch that the reader can feel.

Every character is so completely developed, it is impossible not to be fully invested in them. This makes the reading of the last half of this book riveting. Secrets are exposed, fears are shared and feelings confessed. I raced to the last pages and was not in the least bit disappointed.

I highly recommend Where Earth Meets Water. Although intense feelings and events are contained, there is nothing threatening or difficult in the reading of this book. I truly hope that this is the first of many for Pia Padukone.

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You can find out more about Where Earth Meets Water by Pia Padukone here…