Jaswal’s well-crafted novel blends mystery, social commentary, and human drama into a fascinating amalgam that highlights the plight of decidedly unseen women undertaking cheap labor that exposes them to all sorts of abuse. The story feels authentic and is timely as it portrays enterprising women and the unfortunate circumstances that galvanize them.
The novel doesn’t shy away from contemporary politics but doesn’t preach, either. Rather, it examines the lives of people who are part of a complex, often exploitative global system that devalues the lives of women and the profound responsibilities that are classified as women’s work—the rules these women must abide, both spoken and unspoken, their hopes and aspirations, and their varied grief. It’s a layered, compelling read.
Jaswal effectively balances the murder mystery plot and the dramas of the individual women; they each take agency over their own lives and find, if not truly happy endings, at least satisfying ones. This sympathetic, humane look at low-paid domestic workers will resonate with many.