A naïve teenage bride transforms into a confident, self-sufficient woman in this brief memoir from Indian author Nirmaljit Kaur Phull. Every Cloud Has a Silver Line tells Phull’s story from her dysfunctional married life in India to her college education in England, where she was finally able to pursue her own path.
The first half of Phull’s story is the most absorbing, as she captures the bewilderment of her14-year-old self facing an arranged marriage. “For heaven’s sake, why was my mother not asking me what I wanted?” she writes.
Scenes from the troubled union itself are alternately vivid and vague. Phull describes dinner plates smashed to the floor in anger, for instance, but explains her husband’s very worst moments by saying only that he “did something very bad.” This sort of imprecise explanation creates distance between Phull and her readers, who will understandably want to know more. Her decision to exclude personal names reinforces this remoteness. Readers may find it difficult to connect with the folks who populate Phull’s world, as they are known only as “my mother” or “my eldest son.”
As a young woman, Phull managed to escape from her husband’s control, and she devotes the second half of her memoir to detailed descriptions of her solo achievements. Here she provides a step-by-step look at her academic career in electronics engineering, including a seemingly endless series of exams. The repetition is wearing, and readers may be easily distracted by typos, including the recurrence of the unfortunate phrase “electronics tasting.”
Every Cloud Has a Silver Line is not a lengthy book, and Phull’s treatment of relationships and emotions is fairly shallow throughout. Phull’s life trajectory itself is inspiring, but her storytelling lacks the depth necessary to consistently engage the reader.
Also available as an ebook.