Aside from the voyeuristic pleasures (which are substantial), we get a sense of entering the consciousness of each character. So much of our personal lives can feel like desperate improvisation, but Flock reveals the scripts we consult — from novels, television, family lore and religion ... A small armada of books have explored the aspirations of India’s booming middle class ... What distinguishes Flock’s take is her interest in and access to the inner lives of married women who face particular constraints: Divorce is difficult to obtain and highly stigmatized ... Marriage is changing because women are changing ... We are...meeting the protagonists of a new global narrative.
Flock strives mightily to avoid cliché, with mixed success ... And for all its sophistication, the book feels compelled to remind readers of the basics: that caste divisions were said to have originated in ancient India, that Gandhi was father of the nation and so on. Still, on balance, Flock is a careful, diplomatic interpreter of modern Indian life. Distilling large swaths of culture and history into brief, well-deployed asides, she keeps her focus on the couples themselves ... The Heart Is a Shifting Sea is a sober portrait of middle-class yearning — an earnest inquiry into what it is one might reasonably dream of finding in marriage.
A book that would have merited wide readership as a narrative of three marriages struggles to capture the nuances of a country in transition. Flock strives to meet the challenge by layering in historical detail. But facts sometimes get the better of her ... Flock doesn’t claim to speak for all marriages; yet her book functions as a stealthy argument for the wisdom of arranged matches, even if not all end in harmony ... arranged marriage, a practice that, for all its outward refinements, remains rooted in the denial of choice and autonomy, especially for women.
This intimate portrait illuminates how the marriages fluctuate between stability and dissolution ... [Flock's subjects'] honesty and authenticity speak volumes about how much they trusted Flock with their stories. Among the book’s many strengths, Flock abstains from generalizing about India or Indian marriages. Instead, she nimbly captures the interiority of her subjects.
Whether her subjects eloped in defiance of the bride’s father or were brought together by an online matchmaker, Flock puts you at the center of their stories in an impressive feat of reporting, bringing forward details culled from encounters and interviews over several years ... These three marriages, without the Bollywood polish, offer an unforgettable look at both the risks and rewards of real-life romance.
Flock, a reporter for PBS NewsHour and former investigative reporter for Forbes India Magazine, makes her literary debut with an absorbing, candid look at three couples as they confront life in a changing India ... An eye-opening exploration of how tradition and star-studded dreams shape love in modern India.
Flock approaches the histories, hopes, dreams, and disappointments of her middle- and upper-middle-class couples as a reporter, not a storyteller, and the book is better for it, steering clear of caricature and sentiment, and letting each of her subjects emerge in the details of his or her own circumstances ... Flock’s book also provides a vivid portrait of a nation in transition, through the lives and desires of its most progressive city’s residents.