The Weight of Heaven is a beautifully written novel about a painful period in the life of an American couple, Frank and Ellie Benton. Frank and Ellie’s only son, seven-year old Benny, has died from meningitis. Frank was away for work during the sudden illness and he blames Ellie for Benny’s death. After Frank is offered a job in India, the two decided to take the job in Girbaug and start life anew.
While in Girbaug, Frank befriends a young boy, Ramesh that is the son of the servants at their home. Ramesh is very smart and at first Frank is helping Ramesh with his homework, and then he is calling him his son. Ellie is not keen on their relationship and also doesn’t like how Frank’s work treats the local people of Girbaug. Ramesh’s father does not appreciate Frank trying to usurp his place. It causes much tension for all concerned and the book leads to a shocking conclusion.
I enjoyed the story (although it made me cry at times), but even more, I enjoyed Umrigar’s fabulous use of language. One example of this is “Ellie felt she had a glimpse of what it meant to be a man who was married to a cloud – ever-shifting, hard to pin down, filtering light but also holding rain.” I liked the bonus features that were at the end of the novel as well and think it would be a fabulous for a book club read. I also really enjoyed that part of the novel was set in Ann Arbor, in my home state of Michigan. The many Michigan references always gave me a smile.
Overall The Weight of Heaven was an engrossing drama filled with wonderful writing that has me wanting to check out Umrigar’s other novels.
I read The Weight of Heaven as part of the TLC Book Tour.