This is going to be one of my favorite books of 2014! 🙂 I did not want it to end. Though there was a very weird feeling when I finished reading it. I felt pretty dazed and carried away, at that instant, I felt that I enjoyed reading the previous books more than this one (while actually I was so into this book when I was reading it). Super weird, haan? Even I am surprised by this feeling. Whatever, I guess I got pretty involved while reading this. But do I think that it’s a must-read? Not sure. Here’s why:
1. I like reading family dramas. I think a lot of people don’t like that genre, so they might not like this book.
2. I like reading any fiction that involves partition and Indian history in any way. If you like that too, you would like to know that this book uses partition and the Indian political scene after that as a backdrop.
This is a book by Gurcharan Das, an Indian author and former MD at Procter & Gamble. This book is slightly autobiographical in nature. I never give spoilers, but if you don’t even wish to know about the theme of the book before you read it yourself, skip from here to the next paragraph, however, I would wish that you read, there are no spoilers really. This novel is about three generations of a Punjabi family where the story of the first generation is framed in Lyallpur (now in Pakistan), the second generation’s story is framed in Shimla and the third generation’s story is framed in Bombay (as well as Shimla). I read some reviews online where most people liked Bombay part the best. I think my favorite was Lyallpur. 🙂 Old, warm, fuzzy, I could totally relate to stories my grandparents & parents have told about their world back then. 🙂 The book did leave some gaps where I was left wondering about what happened to so & so character. For example, there is this really charming personality, Karan, whom every female is attracted to. Priti, who is the love of Arjun, the main character of third generation, runs away with Karan. Karan belongs to Arjun’s mother’s generation. So, it is indeed very shocking! They break up after a while but there’s no mention of Karan or whatever happened to him or why they broke up. I really wanted to know that. Karan wasn’t a main character but his personality is portrayed as so attractive that it becomes important to know what happened to him. However, I guess it’s not possible to cover everything about every character when you are writing about 3 generations in less than 350 pages and want to make it interesting.
You know what totally left me surprised? I had expected to relate to the book in terms of what I have heard from my family about how my great grandparents and grandparents managed to come to India as refugees in between so much of violence, massacre and what not but coincidentally, I could also relate to a lot of things at a personal level. For example, few characters getting in a dilemma about whether there’s a God and whether they have to renounce worldly desires in order to know the truth of life. Questions like these have occurred to me quite sometimes. Of course, like some of these characters, I do not want to give up on worldly desires. 🙂 Some other characters were very spiritual and wished to renounce the worldly desires to get to real happiness. I know such people in real life too. 🙂 There were many other similarities like one of the main characters, Bauji, being A LOT like my own paternal grandfather. Proud, powerful and still wanting to live life with desires and enthusiasm even at an old age. I am marveled at the coincidences of my life/family and the characters of this novel!!
Overall, I deeply loved reading this book but I am not sure if everyone likes family drama. In case you do, this is must read material. If you like reading about Partition or Indian political history in general, you might like this. If you are a Punjabi whose family had to migrate during partition, read this. 🙂 If you are anyone whose family had to migrate during partition, you might end up liking this. 🙂
Oh, and, this is the 11th book that I read as part of the Brunch Book Challenge and as I said, I’ll be logging my opinion about every book that I read as part of this challenge. In case you want to participate in this challenge too, read up about it here.