As they say… third time’s a charm… and so it was for my third attempt to read Elizabeth Enslin’s While The Gods Were Sleeping. It didn’t work the first two times but this third time, embarrassingly long after the powers that be were kind enough to grant me an ARC, hit the mark and I fell deep into Enslin’s account of life in Nepal.
The first plus of the story is that I know very little of Nepal. I read about the massacre of King Birendra, Queen Aishwarya, and other members of their family at the height of my fascination with all things royal. And then I never knew much more, saving for passing news articles about Living Goddesses and social reforms.
The family that Enslin married into was part of the Brahman caste, and while one of the more well-known castes, I still learned a lot from almost living vicariously through them and their interactions with Enslin. The role of women in the family, how foreigners fit or don’t fit… it was enlightening.
Enslin is, was… I’m not sure what she does now… an anthropologist and she made a study of the women in Nepal. Their roles in the family, their fight for roles outside the family… seeing these things through their songs and poems and speeches was honestly inspiring.
One thing I wanted more of was Aama, Enslin’s mother-in-law. She was a strong, feisty woman who, at the end of the account, was working to set her life story down to be remembered. I would read that story in a heartbeat.
If you want to read a non-fiction book that focuses on the role and the strength of women in a Third World country, I cannot recommend this book enough.
(I received a copy of While The Gods Were Sleeping from NetGalley in exchange for an honest and original review. Apologies to the author and Seal Press for the very belated review.)