Category: reviews

Book Review: My Sister’s Keeper (Jodi Picoult).

My Sister’s Keeper

-Jodi Picoult.


This book has been sitting on my bookshelf for a year now though I wanted to read this for a long time. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult is a story about a 13-year-old teenager Anna, whose life is anything but average. The book is an emotional rollercoaster.

Anna is a 13-year-old teenager who has always been aware of the circumstances of her birth. Anna is a genetically engineered baby. Her parents Sara and Brian, decide to have a third child who will be the perfect donor for their second child Kate, who suffers from a rare type of leukemia. The story begins when Anna files a lawsuit against her parents for rights to her own body. The story of the book follows this lawsuit with time jumps between the past and the present.


The plot of the book follows a specific time frame in the present, beginning with Anna hiring a lawyer Alexander Campbell till the end of the trial. Jesse is Kate and Anna’s older brother who is always getting into trouble but the siblings have a good relationship. The few chapters at the beginning itself are emotionally heavy and this continues throughout the story. The family dynamics go through a change when the lawsuit is filed and it gets further complicated with everyone reacting differently to the situation. Brian immediately starts doubting their choices so far while Sara is shocked that Anna has done something like this. There are many moral and ethical questions raised, from the parents’ side and Anna’s, still there is no right or wrong.


It is not exactly a courtroom drama though a lot of plot points come up during the trial. The judge appoints a guardian ad litum for Anna named Julia Romano. The narration is from different perspectives – Anna, Sara, Brian, Jesse, Campbell, and Julia. At first, it was a little confusing with the multiple narrators, but as the story progressed, it made complete sense. You get an insight into each character that helped me understand their motives and reactions to the circumstances. Jesse and Anna feel invisible in their own family at times because Kate’s health overshadows everything else. Campbell and Julia give a third-person point of view about the family dynamics that reveal so much about the other characters.


The story is about a family and their unusual situation. The siblings are very close to each other especially Kate and Anna; their relationship is so typical in some ways. Once to get to know the characters, it is hard not to feel for them. There is no right answer or decision to the questions asked in the story. At the start, it seems somewhat black and white, but it gets murkier as the story progresses. It is so heartbreaking to see what is going on in their mind, what they have been through; you cant root for just one of them. The epilogue of the book is from Kate’s perspective, and it was the most emotional part for me to read through.


This book is well written and constructed. The moral and ethical debates arising in the story are dealt with in a subtle way yet, they linger in your head even after you have finished reading. This story is extremely emotional, and even though you want to keep reading, it can get too heavy at times. It is a beautiful and heartbreaking story of a family. It is a must-read.

*Get a copy by clicking on the book cover above.

Book Review: The Inheritance of Loss (Kiran Desai).

The Inheritance of Loss

-Kiran Desai.


The Inheritance of Loss is the first novel I am reading written by Kiran Desai. It has garnered a lot of praise and awards since its release. The book is set during the times of the Gorkhaland movement in India. The main narrators of the story are Sai, an orphan living with her maternal grandfather in Kalimpong, and Biju who is living in the United States of America illegally and needs to keep on moving.

The story is set in the mid-1980s in India. Sai, an orphaned teenager is living with her retired judge grandfather, their cook, and a dog in the hill station of Kalimpong. The first chapter of the novel starts off grim which I didn’t expect. It is after this incidence that the narration takes us back to how this came to be.


Sai has a different, more liberal sort of a world view compared to her grandfather. Their relationship is hard to describe; they care about each other but are thrust together due to the circumstances so, they maintain a certain distance. Sai falls for her tutor Gyan, who is Nepalese and for a while everything is normal. Gyan is provoked by some insurgents against Sai and her family.


Biju is the cook’s son who has moved to the United States of America for a better life. He is an illegal immigrant, who constantly fears being found out and has to be vigilant and move on quickly. He works hard, taking up any available job as he tries to make a better life for himself but it’s not working out as he hoped. At times, he wishes that maybe he should just go back to India. The judge, Sai’s grandfather, is Oxford-educated. There are parallels between the judge’s experience abroad and those of Biju’s. This part of the story is hard to read. It has a sense of alienation and loss.


There is a part of the story where everything is pretty normal especially in Sai’s life. She is falling in love with Gyan, they are building a relationship and they are blissfully unaware of the sociopolitical climate around them. Ignorance is bliss until it isn’t. Gyan starts hanging around people who provoke him which leads to problems with Sai. Towards the end, the story comes back to the first chapter when we realize that Gyan played a part in the attack on Sai’s house. The story comes to full circle.


Overall, the plot and the characters keep you hooked. The setting, the atmosphere, and the historical context make this an interesting read. It starts off a little slow. It took me some time to get used to the narration and understand the character backstories then the pace picks up. The story gives us an insight into the lives of Indians living abroad through Biju, who imagine all flowery things but the reality can be quite different. Sai’s story shows us the life of a middle-class family caught in turbulent times and having to suffer because of it.


I liked reading the book. I read a lot of reviews before I read this book and went into it with too many expectations. This is the reason I feel a little underwhelmed by this novel. The narration, descriptions, characters, and setting are intriguing but I wasn’t floored by it. Read this novel without any expectations and you’ll end up enjoying it more.

*Get a copy by clicking on the book cover above.

Book Review: Easy (Tammara Webber).

Easy 

-Tammara Webber

I haven’t read a book written by this author before. I was intrigued by its plot. It’s been a while since I read a New Adult Fiction novel. Easy (Contours of the Heart #1) by Tammara Webber is the love story of Jacqueline and Lucas, a college romance.

Jacqueline has followed her boyfriend to the state college. After dating each other for three years, he breaks up with her to explore other options. She is left shaken by this. She has fallen behind on her Economics class after her break up and now needs help. Landon Maxfield is the tutor recommended by her professor to help get her grades back up. Jacqueline has become self-reflective after her break up with Kennedy. She realizes that she did a lot of things to make him happy, putting him first and even declining her dream music college.

Jacqueline meets Lucas in a very tricky situation when he helps her. He takes self-defense classes on the campus which she decides to join due to her friend Erin’s insistence. She starts emailing Landon Maxfield about her Eco class, and they hit it off. Meanwhile, she feels curious and attracted to Lucas, who is a mystery. It starts with attraction, but they do get along well. Lucas intrigues her, and slowly, the layers he hides beneath start peeling off but not completely. 

As Jacqueline interacts more and more with Landon and Lucas, she starts being herself again. She slowly starts getting back the confidence in herself and her identity other than being Kennedy’s girlfriend. The characters in the books are realistically portrayed. They act maturely and sensibly when faced with tough situations but still are trying to figure out their place in the world. The college setting has a positive environment; Erin, Jacqueline’s friend, is so supportive of her and vice versa.

The relationship between Jacqueline and Lucas is an example of a healthy relationship. They deal with problems sensibly and, realistically; there is minimum drama. Lucas is a little cautious Jacqueline but then you realize that it is for the right reasons. I liked the character of Lucas so much more than I thought I would. In the beginning, I thought he might be a little typical; he is anything but typical. He is caring and respectful of Jacqueline and her decisions. They have a very cute and realistic relationship. There is no toxic behavior from either side. 

Reading Young Adult or New Adult novels can be predictable at times for me because I have read a lot of them. Easy was like a breath of fresh air. The characters, the writing, and the setting is so grounded; it keeps you hooked. Once I started reading it, I had to force myself to keep the book down. It is engaging, cute, and positive. I enjoyed reading it.

*Get a copy by clicking on the book cover above.

Book Review: Snows of Kilimanjaro (Ernest Hemingway).

Snows of Kilimanjaro

– Ernest Hemingway


Snows of Kilimanjaro is a short story written by Ernest Hemingway. The story focuses on Harry, a writer, who is unwell and is reflecting on his life while waiting to die. The story gives us insight into Harry’s life and the events which brought him to this point.

The story of Snows of Kilimanjaro begins with Harry and his wife being stuck in Africa while on a safari. Harry has gangrene; he and his wife are waiting for the rescue plane to show up. Harry didn’t apply iodine to his cut that then became infected. In the beginning, Harry keeps drinking and insults Helen, who is just trying to help him. He knows that he isn’t going to survive till the rescue plane gets there.


The focus shifts from the present to the past. Throughout the story, there are a series of flashbacks that focus on different times and situations of Harry’s life. Helen is a rich woman, and Harry has been living off his wife’s money. This trip to Africa was supposed to be his fresh start. He has spent too much time in the past procrastinating, drinking, and indulging in materialistic pleasures. Now he keeps regretting the things he wanted to do but didn’t. It is difficult to understand Harry at the start of the story; he seems rude and spoiled. As the flashbacks started, you get an insight into his character and understand him a little better.


The themes of death and regret plays a huge part in this story. Harry’s gangrene is caused by a scratch of a thorn that he didn’t disinfect. The flashback shows his experiences with mortality when he was a soldier in WW1 and got injured during a German bombing. He also keeps thinking about his writing career; it will end with him. I think he worries about the kind of legacy he is leaving behind both as a person and as a writer. His impending death makes him regret some life choices he made. In a way, it takes Harry to be on his death bed to think about all the wasted opportunities that are weighing heavily on him now.


The nature surrounding Harry and Helen has parallels with what is happening to Harry. The way Hemingway describes these parallels; you are never taken out of the story. The memories that flood Harry when he awaits his death are overwhelming to him. He reflects on events and behavior he hasn’t thought about in years. Everything is coming back to him, and in a sense, that is bringing regret with it. His wife, Helen, tries to be a reasonable voice, telling him that he will get help, and he will be okay. Harry treats with contempt at times maybe, even trying to blame his regrets about life on her.

Snows of Kilimanjaro is a very interesting story. The narration shifting from present to the past gives a unique perspective into Harry’s life that makes it easier to understand the man he is now. The descriptions and atmosphere of the story paints a vivid picture; it is well written. The darker themes about death and regret are dealt with a subtlety. I enjoyed reading this story.

*Get a copy by clicking on the book cover above.

Book Review: The Snowman (Jo Nesbo).

The Snowman

-Jo Nesbo


The Snowman by Jo Nesbo is the seventh book in his Detective Harry Hole series. I didn’t read the other ones, but it didn’t make any difference to me. I read it as a standalone novel, and it worked. The book follows Detective Harry Hole as he chases down a serial killer. The setting of the book is Oslo, Norway, during the winter season in the early 2000’s.

The Snowman begins with a flashback when a teen boy is asked to wait in the car by his mother as she meets her lover in midst of a snowfall. After that, the story shifts to 2004 and once in a while goes back to flashbacks. Harry Hole is a definition of a functioning alcoholic but he is a very good detective. He has been trained by the FBI to find serial killers because such crimes are very low in Norway. A strange case about a disappearance regarding the mother of a young boy named Jonas is connected to several such disappearances through the years.


Harry is introduced to his new partner Katrine Bratt. She is alluring, quick, and intelligent; they get along well from the start. Katrine seems mysterious at times. Harry and Katrine are similar to each other and have mutual respect. Harry is living alone after his breakup with girlfriend Rakel and her son Oleg. She is now in a new relationship with Mathias who works in the Anatomy department. She still is a part of Harry’s life, and Harry is like a father figure for Oleg. He has lost two partners before Katrine. He is broody, drunk, and to some extent is beaten down by his experiences.


Harry tries to catch the killer dubbed as The Snowman; the killer builds a snowman near the victim’s house that faces the house instead of the street. This killer changes his patterns frequently, and apart from the Snowman at the homes of the victims, there isn’t much in terms of evidence. Finally, they seem to be getting close, but all hell breaks loose when they realize that Katrine might be Snowman. She is captured and admitted to a psychiatric ward. All evidence is against her, but when one more body shows is found, Harry starts to doubt whether Katrine is the real killer or not.


The descriptions of Oslo through Harry’s eyes give the readers an insight into a new country and its culture. The way the novel is written, you are transported to a different place. The atmosphere of the story reminded me of a little of gothic novels where the atmospheres are part of the plot. Harry’s character is not perfect by any means, but he always tries to do his best, and he is an extremely good detective. He has a drinking problem that he tries to keep under check, he is impulsive and gets frustrated easily at times, but he is still likable.


The book is dark, gritty, and eerie almost from the beginning. I think after reading this book seeing a snowman might freak me out a little bit. The pace of the novel is good throughout, but as it gets close to the ending, especially after Katrine is suspected of being the Snowman, the suspense goes up a notch. The identity of the killer came as a surprise to me. There is a chapter which is from the killer’s point of view that gives insight into his mind, and it is creepy. The killer has issues with women that stem from his mother’s dishonesty.


The book has its thrills and suspense. It is much darker than I had anticipated, even in terms of characters, not just story-wise. I have never read anything written by author Jo Nesbo before, his writing is descriptive, and there is a lot of attention to detail. The characters are interesting, and so is the plot. It never becomes predictable. I liked reading this book; it is a perfect suspenseful read.

*Get a copy by clicking on the book cover above.

Book Review: Angel of the Dark (Sidney Sheldon and Tilly Bagshawe).

Angel of the Dark

-Sidney Sheldon and Tilly Bagshawe.


Angel of the Dark by Sidney Sheldon and Tilly Bagshawe is a thriller novel. It focuses on a series of murders in which the rich older husband violently murdered, and his young wife is brutally raped but left alive. The story spans a few years and different continents as the narration jumps from one timeline to the next.

The story begins in 1996 in Los Angeles when Andrew Jakes, a millionaire, is murdered, and his wife is found alive but badly beaten and raped. Detective Danny McGuire is in charge of the case. He has no promising leads or suspects except the witness, Angela Jakes, the wife. She disappears overnight before the case is officially closed, and all the money she inherited from her husband is donated to children’s charities. 9 years later, Danny is working in Interpol at Lyon, France. The Andrew Jakes’s murder still haunts him, and it is one of the reasons he leaves America.


Danny is contacted by a writer Matt Daley who is persistent about talking to him. Matt Daley, his mom, and his sister were abandoned by Andrew Jakes when Matt was still a baby, and he hadn’t seen him since then. Matt Daley is intrigued by his biological father’s mother and decides to make a documentary about him. Matt is the one who finds the other similar murders where wealthy older husbands were murdered and their wives raped but alive. The wives disappeared soon after donating all the money to charities.


The narration shifts a lot as all characters have a point of view. In the beginning, it was a little confusing, but then it started making sense. The story has a good pace, and the plot is thrilling and mysterious. The intensity level is amped up as the story moves ahead. Sofia Basta is the wife of all victims and has been an accomplice to the murders with Francis Mancini. One thing that slightly bothered me was that the male characters are immediately infatuated with Sofia Basta throughout the book that is almost borderline obsessive. Since childhood, Sofia has faced unwanted advances and assaults. She is a victim too sure, I agree, but the ending for her doesn’t seem appropriate.

The last few chapters started to get predictable. I still wanted to know how things turned out the way they did. Matt’s obsession with Lisa, one of Sofia’s identities, is a little unrealistic. They knew each other for a few weeks and fell in love. The faith he has in her despite evidence proving otherwise at times was illogical. Sofia and Francis both had a rough childhood and ended up in the same children’s home in New York. Sofia has never known safe, but she feels safe with Matt. The tragic love story of Miriam, the Moroccan Princess, seemed random when I read it, but its importance to Sofia is unraveled later on.


The thrill, the romance, and some psychological elements in the mix; it makes an interesting read. The writing style and the pacing of the story were good, and it never felt dull. The only problem for me was that after a certain point, I could guess where it was going. Overall, I liked reading this book. I am not much of a thriller reader, but this book is a good one-time read.

*Get a copy by clicking on the book cover above.

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (J.K.Rowling, Jack Thorne & John Tiffany).

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

-J.K.Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was released back in 2016. I have been meaning to read it for years. I had heard some mixed reviews about this book and didn’t want to ruin in any way my love for the original books and movies. The script of this play was published, in the form of a book. I found the kindle version a few weeks back and thought it was a good time to start reading it.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child mainly follows Harry’s young son Albus as he goes to Hogwarts. He is sorted into Slytherin and befriends Scorpius Malfoy. Albus is not very happy at Hogwarts and feels the weight of Harry’s legacy. He is tensed and feels misunderstood. Harry doesn’t approve of Albus’s friendship with Scorpius as there are rumors about him being Voldemort’s child. Meanwhile, Harry Potter now works at the Ministry of Magic and has to live with his past and its guilt.

The story begins to gain pace when Amos Diggory, visits Harry’s home. Cedric Diggory, Amos’s son was killed by Voldemort because he was with Harry during the Tri-wizard tournament. There is a rumor that the Ministry of Magic has acquired a time-turner that Amos wants Harry to use to save Cedric. He plays on the guilt Harry already feels about Cedric’s death. Harry refuses to validate this rumor. Albus overhears them.

When Albus is leaving for Hogwarts, Harry and Albus get into a big argument and say things in the heat of the moment. Albus runs out of the room. Harry starts having bad dreams soon, and his scar aches. It makes him very restless and worried. Albus and Scorpius dig information about the time-turner and decide to use it to save Cedric. Inadvertently, changing history.

The play is full of magic and adventure that we associate with the Harry Potter series. There is time-travel, and we get to see different alternates to the story we know. Albus and Scorpius have a great friendship even though their parents don’t approve of it. They trust each other. Their actions seem careless but, they are just kids and, they think they are doing the right thing. Harry, Hermoine, and Ron are grown-ups. Their characters have different issues now. It was since getting to know these versions of them.

Albus and Harry share a difficult relationship. Both of them end up miscommunicating with each other. It is realistic in a way, but, at times, can be frustrated because neither of them wants to listen to the other. Albus hates being compared to his father and the weight that Harry’s legacy carries. Being sorted into Slytherin makes him feel alienated from the rest of his family. The themes of friendship, betrayal, trust, and family are at the center of this play that is reminiscent of the world that is already familiar to us.

I think this book as a standalone is pretty good. If compared to the original seven books, it falls a little short but, it is still a good book overall. It is a new adventurous story in a world we already know; some characters we already know so, it is interesting. I enjoyed reading it.

*Get a copy by clicking on the book cover above.

Book Review: 1984 (George Orwell).

1984

-George Orwell.


The last time I started reading this book, I left it incomplete. Now, I finally finished reading it, and in retrospect, I can’t remember why I left it back then in the first place. 1984 is a dystopian novel by George Orwell. It was published in 1949, and mainly, it is a political book about the post-war world.

The book is set in the future, in 1984. The geography of this world is different from ours with three superpowers – Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia. These states are constantly in war with each other. Oceania is ruled by a political group simply known as The Party. Apart from the inner members and outer circle members of the party, everyone else is proles, who live in poverty and mostly ignored. The people here live under constant surveillance, conform to rules, and pledge complete loyalty to Big Brother (Head of The Party).


Winston Smith is a member of the outer party who works in the Ministry of Truth. He is a talented writer, but his job is to edit news articles to fit the ideals of the Party. Winston is the protagonist of the story and we see his world through his eyes. He is often described as frail and quiet, but he is curious and introspective. Winston starts maintaining a diary in which he writes his true thoughts about the world he lives in, which is a punishable offense. He imagines he is writing it for an inner member who is secretly against The Party, named O’Brien. Winston has an affair with Julia; their desire for each other is also like a rebellion.


This book is a commentary against communism because Orwell was worried about Stalin’s USSR and how other countries were turning a blind eye to it. The atmosphere created in the book where the Party doesn’t want people to have any individuality, and the focus is on collective identity. There is a branch called the Thought Police, who keeps an eye out for people who think in unorthodox ways or might rebel. These people are taken away by the Thought Police for committing thoughtcrimes.


This book was written more than 70 years ago, yet it is significant even today. The constant surveillance of people in the story is eerie, but it is also a concept we can relate to in our society. There is a reality that has been created and controlled by the Party. The rewriting of history to show how things are better under their rule, news that is edited to match Party ideologies; it is like a propaganda machine shaping your reality. As you read, you realize the political connotations throughout the story, and it is reminiscent of the Soviet Union and Nazi era.


There are many aspects of the story that surprised me. Winston and Julia are meeting in secret. They start going to a room above a shop where Winston bought the diary. Winston believes that proles are their only hope for a revolution against the Party. The lovers are practically led to a trap by the people they trusted who turned out to be members of the Thought Police. Desire, love, and loyalty should only be for The Party and the Big Brother which Winston accepts at the end.


Some aspects of the book are disturbingly similar to our reality. The surveillance of people, certain specific narratives of history or narratives by the media, and even the propagandas to some extent. These are the concepts that are familiar to us today though not to the level shown in the story. Political undertones are throughout the story, and it is a known fact that George Orwell was against totalitarian and communist ideologies. It took some time for me to get into the story especially at the beginning. Once the setting and the world of the story was established; it changed the pace of the plot. The story is told from a third-person omnipresent narrative, but the focus in on Winston. The character of Winston is introspective, so that helped me understand the gravity of the situation.


I don’t know I kept the book aside that first time because 1984 is a wonderful book. I wasn’t sure about it when I started reading it, but it gets interesting, and then you can’t wait to find out what happens next. It gets a little disturbing and heavy, but that adds to the plot. It has relevance in today’s world, and in a way, it is eye-opening. It is a must read.

*Get a copy by clicking on the image above.

Book Review: A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry).

A Fine Balance

-Rohinton Mistry.


A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry is set in an unnamed city of India during the period of The Emergency (1975 – 1976). This is the first novel by Rohinton Mistry that I have read. It is a long novel and complicated in terms of its plot, so I don’t think I will be able to summarize it here properly. I’ll try my best to explain the story.

The story focuses on four main characters – Dina, Ishwar, and Omprakash, who are uncle and nephew, and Maneck. The four characters come from different social settings. Dina was born in a well to do family, but after her father’s death, her older mother took her in because her mother was unable to provide for her. Dina’s older brother mistreated her regularly treating her like a burden. She rebels against him when she marries Rustom Dalal and they are happy together until Rustom dies in a car crash three years later.


Dina is determined and spirited enough to fight against the odds. This time she doesn’t want to be a burden to anyone and make her own way by starting her tailoring business. Ishwar and Omprakash are the tailors Dina hires to work for since her eyesight isn’t the best. Ishwar and Omprakash have fled their village to escape from caste violence against them. They want a fresh start in the city, and they get jobs as tailors for Dina. Surprisingly, they meet Maneck, a student from an idyllic hill station who rents a room as a boarder at Dina’s house later on. Maneck’s friend disappeared without a trace which still weighs on him and is the reason he moves away from his college campus housing. Their lives converge with each other, and in times of unrest, they form a solid understanding among each other.

A Fine Balance can’t exactly be classified as a political novel, but the Emergency period setting makes in an underlying theme. The characters come from different backgrounds so, the experience of each of them during this time differs from one another. This gave an insight into a period of unrest and crises from four perspectives which make the story is so realistic. Rohinton Mistry’s writing perfectly captures the essence of Indian culture in terms of his descriptions, and it transports you to those places and time. It touches on practices like the sterilizations, mass detentions, caste, and religious discriminations which were carried out during this time regularly.


The story takes a much darker turn and the true extent of the Government’s practices are exposed. It is hard to read through those parts. The freedoms citizens get that we take for granted; the story shows how horrific and anarchic it can get if these rights are taken away. For each character, the effect of the Emergency varies. Ishwar and Omprakash live in slums which are targeted areas for sterilization and labor camps. It is eluded that Maneck’s friend was an activist, and he was detained by the Government because he opposed, and nothing was heard of him again. Dina’s landlord constantly threatens her with eviction using thugs to do his dirty work.


I was unaware of the intensity and the extent of the effects on people’s lives at this time in the history of the country. The story is grounded, and at any point, doesn’t seem forced or unrealistic. The novel is pretty lengthy, but it is engaging throughout and doesn’t feel dragged on. I liked reading this book though, at times, it got too heavy. It is not something I’ll pick up again anytime soon, but it is one of the best books I have read. It is a must-read.

*Get a copy by clicking on the image above.

Book Review: The Princes (Manohar Malgonkar).

The Princes

– Manohar Malgonkar.

The Princes by Manohar Malgonkar is an Indian fiction novel. The story is set in India during the times of British Colonialism, pre and post-independence era. It is about the survival of the Indian Royals during a time of change in the country.

The protagonist of the story is Abhayraj, the prince of Begwad, who is the only heir of his father. The story begins in the post-independent India but the narration shifts to the past, as Abhay reflects on his life. Abhay is an intelligent kid, and for the most part, he is not prejudiced against anyone or anything. He is taught to be a gentleman from a young age and carry himself a certain way. His father is very demanding of him, and at times it takes a toll on him.

Abhay is the narrator of the story. The story focuses on all aspects of his life. His childhood days, the first girlfriend, joining the army during World War II, his father’s struggle, and his mother’s wish to escape her life. Abhay grows up with all the treasures fit for a prince and is never wanting for anything. It is interesting to read about the character at different points in his life and how the social landscape around him affects his conduct.

The story discusses a lot of problematic aspects prevalent in society then. The inferior treatment of individuals based on caste is seen through the treatment of Kanakchand’s character, who later becomes an activist and politician. The treatment of Abhay’s mother by his father is appalling, and in general, the system of having concubines is considered the norm. Throughout the story, Abhay fights not to turn into his father, but on one occasion he does something cruel and accepts the fact that he is his father’s son after all.

The transition from British Raj to becoming an independent state is not exactly smooth. Especially for the royals, their treasures were taken and their power. Many of them tried to save as much as they could by any means possible. Abhay’s father says that he refuses to be the last king of Begwad and see this chapter of history close. I didn’t know much about dissolving the princely states and making them a part of India as a whole. The transition of this wasn’t easy, and there was resistance, but with a wave of democracy, they had to give in.

The writing paints a picture of the life during those times and I realized how much history I was unaware of regarding this period. Abhay, as the narrator, is pretty reliable though he tries to be objective; it doesn’t work all the time, which might be on purpose. This is the only book by Manohar Malgonkar I have read, and his writing style is intriguing and easy; he doesn’t digress too much. The story set a good pace from the beginning, and it continued throughout the novel.

The Princes is different than I expected it to be. It has a good story with the right amount of historical context to keep you interested. Surprisingly for me, it was also emotional in parts, and you can’t help feeling empathetic towards Abhay. I enjoyed reading this book.

*Get a copy from Amazon by clicking on the image above.