Sculpting the Elephant by Sylvia Vetta

Can love overcome cultural differences?

My rating:  4 out of 5

00Amazon.2  00amazon-co-uk

Harry and Ramma meet in Oxford, England, before travelling to Northern India in Sculpting the Elephantsearch of answers about Buddha’s origins and their own futures.  Can their love for each other overcome their different lifestyles and backgrounds?

This is the wonderful story of Harry and Ramma, set in England and then India, intertwined with Bartholomew Carew’s life back in British ruled India in the 1800s.  Harry is an antiques dealer in Oxford, Ramma is an Oxford PhD student from India  hunting for the origins of Buddhism.    Their 1990’s love story has clear connections with that of Bartholomew’s – everyone is looking for answers to life’s problems and fulfilment, and society of both times also has views on welcoming the love of two people from different cultures. 

A wonderful story of history, traditions, family and love, as Harry and Ramma travel through northern India in their search for answers.  Their travels take them to Mumbai, the state of Bihar and various places in the state of Uttar Pradesh, including Varanasi –as they search for the origins of Buddhism, and the answers to the questions about their own futures.    

Meanwhile a century earlier, Bartholomew Carew is also having difficulties mixing his Victorian English marriage, to his love of India, its exploration and his enthralment with the people.  Throughout the book it is very clear which story is being told, the modern one, or Bartholomew Carew’s.   I understand the author’s own experiences of marriage to someone from India, contributed to the theme of love across different cultures.    

4*s from me for this wonderful work of literature.  I loved the historical details of the Victorian era, the glimpses of India past and present, and Harry and Ramma’s search for the truth and their futures – which will leave you in suspense right up to the final pages. 

At the back of the book are a glossary of Hindi words used in the text, notes on antiques references, notes about the Victorian people referred to and also Buddhist references.  An interesting read in themselves! 

A note from the author – Sylvia Vetta:

Thank you Emma for reviewing Sculpting the Elephant. Much appreciated . You are right that it is informed by my own mixed relationship I married Indian born Atam Vetta when mixed relationships were rare and viewed with hostility not just in the UK. In 1966, they were illegal in South Africa and in most Southern States of the USA (until Loving v Virginia). In India they are not illegal but many upper caste Indians do not approve of marriage outside of caste.
In the UK attitudes have revolutionised. Mixed relationships are no longer rare and it is predicted that by 2075 the majority of the population will be of mixed ancestry There are mixed relationships in all three of my novels. My aim is to explore what we have in common whilst being honest about the difficulties. The ultimate prize is enhanced understanding and creativity that comes with crossing cultures.
For the launch of STE I made this 4 minute video which explains the circumstances under which Atam and I met .

Other book/s I have read, and reviewed, by this author (click on book cover to see review) :

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