The first form of love was the Goddess. Like love always is, we could not see her, but simply feel that she was there.

We will call her the Devi, the self, the eternal. She is the mother to the universe and everything that comes next. …

The Devi smiles at the three Gods, our Trimurti, and says, ‘Go forth. Create. Destroy. Above all else, make sure truth and the spirit prevails.”

– ‘How the world came to be: Mama’s version’


I love publishing at the moment. I love that there is a freedom that seems to have been missing for quite some time in terms of the range of books in print and the diversity of subject and form. Nikita Gill’s extraordinarily beautiful The Girl and the Goddess is one such book. A novel written in verse essentially, with lovely illustrations by the author herself, it’s a wonderful blending of feminist thought, mysticism and Hinduism – and one of those books that will become an Old Familiar, the ones I go back to again and again.

The Girl and the Goddess tells of Paro, a young girl born into a Hindu family in Kashmir, who comes to find herself through the mystical landscapes and stories woven around her. It’s a celebration of womanhood and Paro’s path to empowerment, and yet Gill also deals with greater issues, relating Paro’s experiences to her physical environment and the religious, cultural and social issues of her immediate landscape.

‘I am too young to know the difference between religions. … Once long ago, we were friends, neighbours, family to each other. Now old tensions paint the ground we live on crimson. … Should it matter if the name spoken is Allah or Ganesh if your morning begins with God’s name?’

Through beautiful imagery, Gill paints a magical, lyrical world, celebrating love and family, and drawing on Hindu texts and mythology.

This is a very special book, one that will resonate with many, especially women, whether one has an understanding of Hinduism or knowledge of India, Kashmir and Pakistan. On a personal level, I really wish my mama were still alive. I grew up hearing her weave tales of empowerment through the stories of the gods and goddesses of her faith and caste, and then later through the myths and legends of other places, Rome, Greece, Egypt. She would have loved this book. As do I.

Highly recommended.


About the author:

Nikita Gill is a British-Indian writer and artist living in the south of England. An ambassador for National Poetry Day and a regular speaker at literary events, Gill has also written Great Goddesses: Life Lessons from Myths and Monsters. Instagram: @nikita_gill Tumblr: Facebook: @nikitagillwrites Twitter: @nktgill


The Girl and the Goddess | Nikita Gill | Ebury | 2020 | hb | £12.99  

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Acknowledgements: Text quoted from The Girl and the Goddess © Nikita Gill 2020. This review is published as part of the book tour organised by Random Things Tours. Many thanks to Anne Cater for the invitation and to the publisher for supplying a review copy. All opinions are our own. All rights reserved. Please check out the other reviews on this tour.

See also: Kamala Markandaya’s beautiful words’; ‘Anita Nair’s Bangalore Detective: Borei Gowda‘; ‘Alice Walker and the power of poetry’; ‘By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept’; ‘Yvonne Battle-Fenton’s Remembered‘; ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised‘; ‘We should all be feminists‘; The not-so-invisible woman: 150 greats in their own words’; ‘How Penguin learned to fly – Allen Lane and the Original “Penguin Ten”‘; Dorothy L. Sayer’s Busman’s Holiday – Romek Marber for Penguin Crime (book covers we love).

Also of interest: Night Mail (1936), changing the face of British film; A Colour Box by Len Lye (1935)The Splendour of George Stevens’ Giant (1956).

This review is copyright © 2020 by The Literary Shed. All rights are reserved. All opinions expressed are our own. If you wish to reproduce this piece, please contact us for permission and provide the necessary credit. Thank you so much. We welcome your feedback.





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