The Candid Life of Meena Dave

by Chandra Sundeep
cover picture of The Candid Life of Meena Dave by Namrata Patel

My first reaction to finishing The Candid Life of Meena Dave by Namrata Patel was, “I would love to watch this story on the silver screen!” Yes, this novel has all the elements for a perfect masala movie – drama, emotions, loneliness, romance, humour, pain, trauma and even family secrets!

The protagonist, Meena, is an Indian American photojournalist with a wandering spirit. Raised by white parents, she remains in the dark about her birth parents. When she tragically loses her adoptive parents at the age of sixteen, she is left utterly shattered. With no familial connections to lean on, she immerses herself in her work, becoming a dedicated workaholic. However, her life takes an unexpected turn when she inherits a Victorian brownstone in historic Back Bay, Boston.

Meena’s world is turned upside down when she arrives at the property known as Engineer’s House, a place once inhabited by Indian immigrants fresh off the boat. To her surprise, building regulations dictate that only direct descendants can be owners. Perplexed, Meena embarks on an investigation to uncover her connection to the woman who bequeathed the apartment to her.

Coming to her aid are the “aunties” residing in the building. These ladies are kind-hearted and loving, but also known for their penchant for interference. Life in the building is nothing short of chaotic, as residents never lock their doors, and their homes are always open to each other. This communal living is a shock to Meena at first, but as she gradually opens up to her neighbors, it marks the beginning of a heartwarming story where friends become family.

The story provides an authentic glimpse into the lives of Indian Americans. The well-crafted characters feel realistic, and their experiences are highly relatable. Also, the bond between the “aunties” is a delightful aspect of the story, which the author portrays beautifully.

Meena, as the central character, is intricately developed. Her struggles with identity, life as an adopted child, the trauma of losing her parents, cultural disconnection from her roots, and her initial hesitance to open up to others are skillfully depicted. Throughout the narrative, Meena’s character undergoes significant growth, and I found myself empathizing with her.

While Sam and Meena make an endearing couple, I wished for a deeper exploration of their romance. Nevertheless, their relationship remains charming. Not much to really complain about there!

I loved the bits about the first Indian immigrants arriving in Boston.

Though the book doesn’t end on the note I wished it would, but it still made me happy. It sounds plausible and optimistic too.

The story treads on predictability, and the writing style isn’t as great. The pacing is off in certain places. And at times, there is less showing and more telling. But this is Patel’s debut and having read her subsequent book, “Scent of a Garden,” I know she has come a long way.

The Candid Life of Meena Dave is a delightful book, and I highly recommend this to readers who are fond of heartwarming books.


The book is available for free for KU subscribers. 


Wordsopedia Rating 3.5/5


Title: The Candid Life of Meena Dave Author: Namrata Patel
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing Publication date: 1 June 2022
Genre: Fiction—General Format: eBook
ISBN: 9789389253474 No. of Pages: 312

Buy your copy here on Amazon

About the author

Namrata Patel is an Indian American writer who resides in Boston. Her writing examines diaspora and dual-cultural identity among Indian Americans and explores this dynamic while also touching on the families we’re born with and those we choose. Namrata has lived in India, New Jersey, Spokane, London, and New York City and has been writing most of her adult life.

Get in touch with the author on her website.



This post is part of Blogchatter’s Half Marathon

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