As young Anuradha boards a train for Bombay, where she will marry a man she has never met, peacocks appear out of nowhere to serenade her. Such a dazzling departure can only lead to an uncertain but exciting future. Sure enough, across her path come a host of colourful characters: Nandini, the artist who walks on water and has a passion for ...
As young Anuradha boards a train for Bombay, where she will marry a man she has never met, peacocks appear out of nowhere to serenade her. Such a dazzling departure can only lead to an uncertain but exciting future. Sure enough, across her path come a host of colourful characters: Nandini, the artist who walks on water and has a passion for panthers; Mr Bunkusdaas, the father of Bollywood cinema; Diva bai, the sinister old woman rumoured to have fed her sister to crocodiles; and Percival Worthington, the aristocratically limp son of the governor of Bombay. Together they conjure a forgotten world of betrayed love, of dangerous desires and unfathomable sorrow - creating an Indian melody that will haunt you long after the tale is done.
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A good first novel try, Siddharth Shanghvi tries a bit too hard to impress us with his vocabulary. The word pictures he draws are sometimes more distracting than they are informative. He also mixes colloquialisms from so many eras that the reader has to guess whether a particular line has a hidden meaning or Shanghvi was momentarily struck by a phrase he saw in an old movie.
Shanghvi's first effort requires some effort to get through. Hopefully, his next one will be a cleaner, easier read.
Publishers Weekly, 2004-09-13 In his first novel, Bombay-born Shanghvi carves a magic realism-tinged niche for himself between Salman Rushdie and Arundhati Roy. In colonial India in the 1920s, Anuradha, a beautiful young bride, leaves her home in Udaipur and travels to Bombay to marry a man she has never met, the equally beautiful doctor, Vardhmaan. Shanghvi's India is an elegant, epicurean place: on the day of her departure Anuradha is serenaded by "an ostentation of peacocks that, just as the Marwar Express snorted its way out of Udaipur, unleashed their rain-beckoning cries of Megh-awuu, Megh-awuu...." The couple settles into Vardhmaan's familial home, and as beautiful people tend to, they have a stunning child, Mohan. This is all, of course, the setup for a fall; Mohan dies, and Anuradha and Vardhmaan descend into sadness and longing. The gloom lifts briefly when Anuradha goes away to Udaipur and brings back a 14-year-old orphan, Nandini, who sparks riots with her lascivious attire-the "mini sari"-and emerges as a national figure so important that even Gandhi asks to meet her. Anuradha and Vardhmaan, however, never quite recover from their loss, even when a new son, Shloka, is born. While not exactly purple, Shanghvi's prose can be a bit mauve: a simple necktie becomes "a dignified sartorial adjunct." Still, this is a sensual, delectable debut. Agent, Kim Witherspoon. West Coast author tour. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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