E Zine of KV Pattom published by the Library

Ancient Promises (Jayasree Mishra):Rev. by Salini Johnson

In Book Reviews by Students on January 23, 2008 at 11:13 am

 533446One feels an array of emotions after reading Ancient Promises by Jayashree Misra. The novel starts with Janaki, the protagonist, muse over her life on the occasion of the ending of her marriage. From there, we are taken into Janu’s flashback reaching her eighteenth birthday.       

On that day, she was married to a rich businessman in Kerala. The difficulty of getting accustomed to a new and strange house, a passive husband, a forbidding mother-in-law and various people of the household is narrated in a scintillating style. Janu again welcome us to her past schooldays as a teenage girl where she fell in love with a boy of her age, Arjun.    
From the book’s pages, one can gather that Janaki was a typical Delhi girl of Malayali origin who was torn between the cultures of New Delhi and Kerala. Coming back to her married life, Janu lived with her husband’s big joint family for ten years where she was often the subject of her mother-in-law’s nasty comments. Among those tiring years, she became the mother of a baby girl, Riya, who unfortunately grows to be a mentally handicapped child.     
For her daughter’s sake, Janu makes it to a British University with scholarship for a course in Special Education. Unexpectedly, she bumps into Arjun which marks a turning point in her life. At last, after many bitter experiences, she manages to quit her marital life for good.
The novel centers on the relationship between Janu and her daughter which arouses pity in the reader. The biggest surprise yet comes when we read the author’s note where Jayashree Misra reveals that her novel is semi-autobiographical. This story is beautifully told because of which I was glued to its pages. Read to find out more.
 Reviewed by

Salini Johnson

Class: IX-A


  2. There is a fairly written writeup about Jayashree’s life in cochin and backdrop of the “Ancient Promises” by Priya.A.S (I think collected in her memoirs titled “Ozhukkil orila”.) In fact Priya is the one who translated Ancient promises to malayalam. Priyas article is a recommended reading when it comes to review of Ancient promises.

  3. Have to agree with Gayatri… A rare gem, I would say…
    Jayasree Misra has used such a free, witty and sarcastic style of writing to tell her story which is actually tragic… Graet work , no doubts…

  4. I would be extremely grateful if I could get Ms. Jayashree Mishra’s mail address, as me and my wife – Bijoy- are very good friends of her two sisters – nina and mina – and want to get in touch with them.
    Mobile no: 09337113306
    Res: 0674- 3294874

  5. I don’t get a word to tell about this novel,

  6. I have read the malayalam translation of the book.”Janmandara Vagdanangal” by Priya A S.
    The story was haunting me for days.The style of writing is good. It very well depict the typical kerala joint family .Translation by Priya A S is really appreciable.

  7. This is a wonder ful attempt I am exploring this for the first time .Best wishes

  8. i am doing research on Ancient Promise. would u kindly give any information about this book.

    • Dear Anu,

      A student of mine is also working on Jaishree Mishra. What aspect of this writer are you looking at? My student is working on the women in Jaishree Mishra’s novels. It would be nice to know about other work done in the area. If your thesis is complete we could use it as secondary material.
      All the best

  9. i am doing research on Ancient Promise. would u kindly give any information about this book.

    Thanking u

  10. This is a real life story about the author’s life-all the characters in the book are real!

  11. This book is really superb…..
    It reflects a good idea…….

  12. Great work from a gifted writer, her own life is narrated beatifully.

  13. when i first come to know about jayasree , through priya’s writing in malayala manorama, i recalled sri padmarajan’s style.

    she describing jayasree’s first day in their tuition class. priya thought jayasre may be their new english teacher. jayasree comes in a premier padmini car, wearing a yellow sari. she is beautiful.

    if padmarjan sir is here, this maybe the introduction scene from flash back.

  14. i read this book’s malayalam version by priya a.s.im really fascinated by this book and im really a fan of jayasree.iwill remember janu arjun as well as riya

  15. am planning to do my research on Jaishree Mishra’s few novels. Other than “women in Jaishree Mishra’s novels” on what sensible topic a research can be done?

  16. Such a awesme novel.surely breakout our emotions

  17. The novel never feels like a simple piece of work.its really touching and haunting.from the very beginning it feels like an autobiography

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