Cover Image: An Ayah's Choice

An Ayah's Choice

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Member Reviews

Thank you to the publishers, author and NetGalley for the free copy of this audio book.

This was a good read. I liked that no one was perfect, especially the main character, but she pushed through. I enjoyed Jaya's journey through life. The narrator was good for this as well.
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This narration is about the manifold adventures of the poor village girl Jaiah.  Unloved daughter of a widow, with almost no means, Jaiah manages to get a coveted position as a child carer -an aya- with a British Family in India. She falls in love with the master of the house and begins an ill-advised affair. When the family moves to Britain Jaiah is taken along and has some rather adventurous trials and tribulations. In the end, she manages to come back to India, to find peace for herself and to become independent and self-assured. It is beautifully narrated with some Indian accents to make it sound more realistic.
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An Ayah's Choice was not a book that I was looking for, but on reading the premise, I wanted to know the journey of the girl who left her country and faced hardship, betrayal, and whose perseverance and spirit saw her rising to achieve dreams on her own and with others.

At times Jaya annoyed and frustrated me with her choice to put faith in William, to be led around waiting for a commitment that he would not give her, but in the end was just another tool which she used to follow and acknowledge her path in life. I enjoyed the support she found in the women who helped guide and teach her, which can be rare in books at times; and I became even more interested as we saw bits and pieces of the changing societal landclscapes as women rose up and fought for their rights.
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A very inspiring story!

Jaya is a very strong character. Her fight for freedom was uplifting. Sometimes her naivety hurt, but she learned from her mistakes. 

I loved how everything was presented. Description of the story without unnecessary judgment of the behavior of the characters, that is left for the reader.

In a way it was a frustrating book. The reality of life for women in the beginning of XX century wasn't easy. And that itself was very motivating and inspiring. 

I recommend it with all my heart!
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This story was interesting although I would have liked a little more historical background at the start to get a sense of the period and the setting. Although set in the early 1900s the writing style made it seem much more recent. The later sections when Jaya is in England I found more engaging and I liked the way that the characters were involved in contemporary issues although these were explored in a rather didactic fashion at times.
I had mixed feelings about Jaya, I found it difficult to warm to her as she always seemed to have such a high opinion of herself and her influence over William and it wasn’t until late in the story that her feelings of guilt about Sara came to the fore and she embraced the rights for women movement which made her seem a bit more human. Her life followed a somewhat unlikely path and
I felt that some of the incidents in the story felt contrived and a little improbable but the plot followed a logical progression and was obviously carefully considered. The return to India in the latter stages which enabled Jaya to evaluate what she really wanted from life rounded the story off nicely.

The narration was fair, although occasionally a bit flat and laboured but I think the writing style and slow plot progression contributed to that. The Indian accents were a little harsh at times and I don’t think always did justice to the characters.
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An Ayah’s Choice is the story of Jaya, a young Indian woman who dreams of becoming an artist and desperately wants to avoid an arranged marriage. She obtains a position as an ayah, caring for two British children in India and travels with the family when they return to England. I’d never previously read or even known about Indian women in England in the early twentieth century, and this unique angle definitely caught my attention.

Jaya was my favourite type of female protagonist, strong but flawed. Her story was full of twists and turns, progress and setbacks on her journey towards freedom and independence, including an affair with her employer, an attempt on her life, being incarcerated in an insane asylum, activism in the women’s suffrage movement, serving in the Voluntary Aid Detachment and so much more. What was constant was Jaya’s taking control, seizing opportunities, making decisions. She was not a woman to let life just happen to her. I appreciated the strong bonds she formed with other women - the support gained and offered. The main exception to this was Sara, mother of the children she cared for.

At times the writing was a little didactic and heavy with information dumping. In addition I would have appreciated an author’s note at the end putting the story into its historical context and outlining what was fact, what was based on fact and what was purely fiction.

These are relatively minor quibbles and overall I enjoyed this story. Jaya was a compelling character whose life was packed full of experiences which really spoke to the intersection of race and gender in India and Britain in the early twentieth century. It was absorbing, while highlighting some little known aspects of history. I was lucky enough to receive an ALC from NetGalley. The audio was well done, with the distinct voices and accents enhancing my reading experience.
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Thank you so much for letting listen to this audiobook. I wasn't sure what I was expecting from this story. But I very much enjoyed it. The author really managed to bring this story to life.
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Absolutely loved, loved, loved this book. Very fascinating learning about the role of Ayah's, the period of time in India and England, and the struggles of women during the early 1900's. The characters were very well developed and the storyline kept me hooked until I finished it in practically one setting.
#AnAyahsChoice #NetGalley
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The story is crafted by an English author of South Asian descent with a deep feminist mentality. It takes about the life, struggles, and complex growth of a woman from a culture in which women are seen as property even today. It shows how women in times of gender suppression (and not only) had aspirations, made mistakes, and learned from them. The author doesn't coddle them based on social status or nationality but presents them as they are, with strengths and weaknesses. Abuse and neglect don't know any social status. For readers that are not familiar with South Asia, Shahida Rahman paints a deep historical and cultural setting that can serve as teaching. 


I chose to review the audiobook, and this is where I found my main critique. Amina Zia is a wonderful narrator who can immerse the reader in the story by perfectly speaking in foreign accents that give a strong outline to the characters. However, I felt like Jaya seemed much older than she was in the way she was portrayed.
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Shahida Rahman has given us a wonderful cultural saga of India with a strong female character named Jaya Devani, who grew up with her loving brother, Krishnan, and an unloving mother who is a widow. Krishnan was able to get young Jaya a job as a nanny (ayah) where she could get away from her unfeeling mother and start a new life where she cared for the two young sons of a distinguished British gentleman and his mentally afflicted wife.

This well-written novel has us traveling with Jaya to England as the family ayah where she experiences much hurt and pain at the hands of William and his wife. We watch Jaya mature into a strong independent woman who escapes the hands of William and finds herself on a journey where she experiences an asylum, jail, and the suffragette movement that finally got her on the right path.

The excellent narration by Amina Zia enhanced my enjoyment of this engrossing tale. Excellent intonation and distinct voices for each character had me feeling as though I was on the journey alongside Jaya as she experienced the heartaches of her early years and finally the peaceful comfort of her later life.

I highly recommend Jaya's amazing life journey. I was able to finish it in less than 24 hours. I just couldn't put it down!

My thanks to #NetGalley and Saga Egmont Audio for this ARC. This opinion is my own.

@sagaegmont
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