Opening in Calcutta in the 1960s, Ghosh’s radiant second novel follows two families - one English, one Bengali - as their lives intertwine in tragic and comic ways. The narrator, Indian-born and English educated, traces events back and forth in time, through years of Bengali partition and violence, observing the ways in which political events invade private lives.
"A stunning novel, a rare work that balances formal ingenuity, heart, and mind.” (New Republic)
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Excellent narrator. Master story teller.
- K. Parks
A more personal novel
One of the scenes I remember most clearly was when Ila (spelling) undressed in front of the narrator and how the narrator was no longer able to hide his interest in Ila.
I think the character I got the strongest sense of was the narrator's grandmother. Varma gives you a real sense of her strength, her resolve, and her quiet nature.
I became familiar with Ghosh in his grander, more sweeping stories (such as The Glass Palace, The Sea of Poppies, etc). This story feels much smaller and more personal than those narratives, and that might be because this story has an "I" narrator rather than an unseen 3rd point of view. The scale of events in also smaller as it is not talking about events with truly international impacts as seen in the previously mentioned book. That said, you still have a rich cast of characters and an immersive shifting story.