Daughters of Empire

For Amira Vidhur and her family, life in 1970s London presents challenges far different to those of their comfortably upper-middle-class Trinidadian existence.

Daughters of Empire tracks the resilient, culturally conscious (yet not invulnerable) Vidhur clan through decades of growth and betrayal.

If the current climate surrounding immigrant reception in former colonising nations remains lukewarm, then the Mill Hill that the Vidhurs must confront fairly teems with xenophobia. When Amiraís daughters are casually stoned and verbally abused on their way back from school (an expensive private school, no less, into which Amira has rallied to have them accepted), it is a reminder not just of 1970s and 80s culture and race conflict, but of tensions that linger in the full heat of resentment. This is one of the novelís central triumphs, the way it explores discrimination of all varieties: racism, sexism, patriarchy, finding agitators and allies in the most unlikely of characters.

Persaudís descriptive prose glows most convincingly when describing the pockets of island vibrancy scattered throughout British homesteads. Culinary delights act as a respite from the uncertain fortunes of the world ó in Daughters of Empire, the attention given to meal preparation solders rural Trinidadian communities. Amira, the familyís matriarch, shepherds her three daughters with wisdom, forbearance, and fine traditional cooking. She is perhaps the most compelling figure of the lot, a protagonist drawn with humour and candour, in whom old worlds meet new. Like fragrant spices packed into foreign market stalls, Daughters of Empire woos and lulls even the most jaded of sensibilities into the possibility of imagining better.