Born in the luxuriant mountains of Dalhousie, Shakuntala is a pampered baby of a well-to-do builder. On her nuptial night in 1946, she is gifted a secret to draw on judiciously once the moment comes as she moves on as of the jade valleys of Dalhousie to a village in Punjab reeling under the communal hostility of 1947 from the Delhi of 1950s with its exciting whiff of independence to the Delhi of 1970s drenched in the hippie way of life.
The secret is fortuitously passed along, concealed beneath insecurities and jealousies, sheltered in its vanity and leaving a shadow of wreck as when her great-grandson by chance discovers the furtive he is bewildered by the malevolence that flowed in his family's blood.
With a substantially dry style and not prone to sentimentality the prophetic author, wrote an epic and choral work that masterfully tackles the theme of individuality and collective identity of a family full of characters, that cannot be easily forgotten with a really good book that follow a complex story of a complex family spread across generations. The characters are well sketched and above all are never dull, perhaps because they are full of contradictions and traditions, the same ones that emerge in each of us.
The descriptions are clear, timely and efficient with places, physical features, social belonging, cultural and religious formation are some of the elements that distinguish and relate the humanity in the early decades of the complicated India since independence. The book is touching, strong and full-bodied, and has everything that makes it really exciting and as the book ends there is a curiosity to know more.
A sublime, masterpiece, with a beautiful story, told well, it is a really good read with an interesting family saga, written with the typical Indian verve. This book is recommended to those who love the subtle irony, even of destiny, against the banality of evil which, unfortunately, will also be trivial, but never without tragic consequences.
Rather than the story itself, for the masterful way in which it is narrated, the author has demonstrated formidable literary skills, in knowing how to build and implement a family history as a path in which the purest Indian tradition gives way to the influence of the modern world, to a relentless transformation that all change, overwhelms, sweeps away, leaving the characters in the family stunned and lost.
The melancholy that envelops the book all the time is the force that drags the reader toward a finish that is stunning with a masterpiece with no ifs, ands buts. In a nutshell the book is pure joy, and serenity for the mind to dive but not drown in the freedom of thought and imagination.
Format: Paperback ♥ Publisher: LiFi Publications ♥ Pages: 256 ♥ Published: January 2016 ♥ Language: English ♥ ISBN-13: 978-9382536895
'I received a free copy from Writersmelon in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.