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An Atlas of Impossible Longing by Anuradha Roy

The Book:

The story is of three generations of an Indian family, brilliantly told, in which a sensitive and intelligent foundling boy orphan who is casteless and without religion and Bakul, the motherless granddaughter of the house, grow up together. The boy, Mukunda, spends his time as a servant in the house or reading the books of Mrs Barnum, an Anglo-Englishwoman whose life was saved long ago by Bakul’s grandmother, by now demented by loneliness. Mrs Barnum gives Mukunda the run of her house, but as he and Bakul grow, they become aware that their intense closeness is becoming something else, and Bakul’s father is warned to separate them. He banishes Mukunda to a school in Calcutta, where in the years after Partition he prospers, and whence in time he will return to rediscover all that he has lost.The novel begins in 1907 with the founding of a factory in Songarh, a small provincial town where narrow attitudes prevail. Amulya and Kananbala have two sons and as their family grows, and the house and their garden too, a microcosm of a society develops. It is scholarly, eccentric, hide-bound, fraught with drama, destined to self-destruct. The many strands of this intensely-fashioned narrative converge when Mukunda, by now a successful businessman, returns to Songarh years after he has been exiled from the only home he knew, to resolve the family’s destiny

Source: From Goodreads

The View:

I like Asian Authors and books based in Asia because they have a completely different style of language – one that is very descriptive and informative. I feel it is partly because of the fact that the authors want the western reading community to feel and understand living in Asia as close to reality as possible. Most of the authors do a fairly good job at depiction and Anuradha Roy is no exception.

The story was enjoyable. Of course there were no earth shattering events or extreme drama but it was the story of a normal family. A busy dad Amulya, his wife Kananbala so affected by loneliness that she almost goes insane, the eldest daughter-in-law Manjula who yearns to have a child of her own, the youngest son and archaeologist by profession Nirmal, Bakul his daughter and the almost adopted child of the family Mukunda. I enjoyed that the book was essentially 3 stories written as if they were a sequel. There were phases in the book where nothing exciting happened but if you understand the essence of the tale that is being told than you will enjoy it nevertheless.

Each of the characters were unique and most of them were flawed which added a touch of extreme reality to the events. Kamal’s wife Manjula’s; longing to be a mother is understated and is the character we least connect with in terms of emotions. Meera is like-able and I missed her at the end of part 2 when she leaves to live with her brother’s family.

I enjoyed reading this book and loved how the author manages to portray the characters and events so realistically. Rated a 4 on 5. Here is a mild warning; if you do not enjoy reading family dramas than this book may not be for you.

I received a complimentary copy by Free Press in exchange for my honest review.



One Response

  1. If this is anything like The White Tiger i reckon ill enjoy it! Sounds like a great book – thanks for the review 😀

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