Reviewer: JJ Marsh
What we thought:
A Hundred Hands treads familiar territory to Noble’s previous novel, Outcast. A disturbing incident propels a middle-aged woman to leave a comfortable existence in Britain to engage with India, its children and all the cultural shocks that must entail.
The arc of change is at the heart of both books, but this novel is broader, encompassing Kolkata orphans, a Welsh gran and a whole range of easy prejudices turned on their heads.
Noble’s skill is in sensory description and the increments of change, acceptance, affection and assumption. Relationships develop with a natural feel and her characters are lively and memorable. Kolkata backstreets come to life with startling clarity and the reader is dropped right into the centre of things, as much out of any kind of comfort zone as our protagonist.
Female friendships, associations, love and loyalties are the visible elements of this story, but it is built on the foundations of human empathy.
You’ll enjoy this if you liked: Eat, Pray, Love; Outcast or Heat and Dust
Avoid if you don’t like: Realities of poverty and street life
Ideal accompaniments: Dhal or laverbread, with some cold water
Available on Amazon