The Mother I Never Knew

The Mother I Never Knew
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Rating: 4.5 /5

Author: Sudha Murthy

Paperback: 216 pages

Publisher: Penguin Books Limited; 1 Edition

Publishing Date: 17 July 2014

Language: English

Genre: Fiction

ISBN-10: 9780143422259

ISBN-13: 978-0143422259

ASIN: 0143422251

Cost: Rs. 80 (Kindle edition)


Yet another book from the treasure trove of Sudha Murty, The Mother I Never Knew: Two Novellas is a poignant tale of two men, Venkatesh and Mukesh, as they set out on a journey to find out the mothers they never knew. Both men are happy and settled in their respective lives when they come across a shocking truth.

When Venkatesh realises he has a half-brother from his father's extramarital liaison, his world changes. He finds his step-mother out and is pained to see the pitiful condition she is living in. He must make amends for what his father has done but the question that haunts him deep within is if it is really possible to undo everything. Mukesh is in a similar state of agony when he comes to know that he was adopted as a kid. Pushed by impulse, he decides to find his biological mother. But the farther he goes, the more unclear the picture becomes. He must decide towards whom his true love and loyalty lies: the woman whom he called his mother all his life and who raised him or the woman who has given him birth.

The two men are bound by the same dilemma and the same complexity of emotions. and it is important for them to find their way back to bring stability in their lives. The core interest of the book is in exploring if it is really possible to come to terms with a reality as blaring and as deceiving as that of Venkatesh and Mukesh.


This is actually a book compromising two unrelated stories, in both cases there is a quest for an unknown mother. The first story is how a person sets out to undo a certain wrong doing by his own father. The second is about a young boy who's seeming blissful family life is shattered when he discovers that he is adopted and goes in search of his birth mother.

Both the novellas explore the emotional complexities of two men when they find out about the mothers they never knew they had. Both the stories relate to the complex situations and emotions that protagonist's face. Both have to take certain decisions which change their life.

The language and theme also relaxes the reader and let him relish the beauty of Sudha Murty’s writing. I loved the book for its simple writing and good content. In the plot Sudha Murty explores relationships in depth. The characters are what drives this book apart and add spice and colour to the simple plot.

'The Mother I Never Knew' has everything – selfish people, illegitimate children, foster parents as well as people who are still down-to-earth in spite of their riches. The first story of the book draws a contrast between the living conditions and culture of the two families belonging to the two opposite sides of poverty-line. Though the second story feels a little melodramatic, the writing style and the simplicity of the language captures readers mind in full attention.

This fictional novel talks about human relations. The both stories, though based on completely different backgrounds, strike a similar chord of emotion in the readers. Both the stories deal with family values and discuss about the turn of situations when maintaining a steady relationship with the family can become too difficult.

About the author:

Sudha Murthy was born in 1950 in Shiggaon in north Karnataka. She did her MTech in computer science and is now the chairperson of the Infosys Foundation. A prolific writer in English and Kannada, she has written novels, technical books, travelogues, collections of short stories and non-fictional pieces and four books for children. Her books have been translated into all the major Indian languages. Sudha Murty was the recipient of the R.K. Narayan Award for Literature and the Padma Shri in 2006 and the Attimabbe Award from the government of Karnataka for excellence in Kannada literature in 2011.