Title: Lahore Book I of the partition trilogy
Author: Manreet Sodhi Someshwar
Price: Rs 379
Link For Purchase: Lahore Book I of the partition trilogy
In the months leading up to Independence, in Delhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Vallabhbhai Patel are engaged in deliberations with British Viceroy Dickie Mountbatten over the fate of the country. In Lahore, Sepoy Malik returns home from the Great War hoping to win his sweetheart Tara’s hand in marriage, only to find divide-and-rule holding sway, and love, friendships, and familial bonds being tested.
Set in parallel threads across these two cities, Lahore is a behind-the-scenes look into the negotiations and the political skulduggery that gave India its freedom, the price for which was batwara. As the men make the decisions and wield the swords, the women bear the brunt of the carnage that tears through India in the sticky hot months of its cruellest summer ever.
Backed by astute research, The Partition Trilogy captures the frenzy of Indian independence, the Partition and the accession of the states, and takes readers back to a time of great upheaval and churn.
The book tries to capture the months preceding August 15, 1947 at two levels, one at the level of the common man and another at the level of the leaders of the independence struggle. The author has used two parallelly running threads in order to do this. One thread deals with the trials and tribulations faced by the people of India while the other thread deals with the politics and frantic machinations that were afoot in the corridors of power in Delhi.
The narration is terrific and as one reads the book one gets the feeling that s/he is actually living in the tumultuous era that is being described. The writing is simple and elegant and the author has not used too many ornamental words. One distinctly gets the feeling that everything is happening right in front of the reader’s eyes. It is almost like watching a movie on a 70 mm screen.
The partition was wrought with violence and this is brought out amply by the events occurring in Lahore. People who have lived together for decades, turn against each other just because overnight their religious identity takes over with a fury that simply throws aside the love, warmth, and affection they have felt for each other for a long time. Gangs consisting of sword-wielding Muslims and Hindus run riot and blood flows copiously in the mohallas of Lahore.
While a murderous war is unfolding in Lahore, in Delhi, the leaders of our independence try desperately to keep the violence at a minimum while at the same time dealing with their differences of opinion. The Muslim League and the congress, both have conflicting demands. The congress and Lord Mountbatten try their best to make the partition peaceful. Unfortunately, their best efforts fail.
My father used to tell me stories about what things were like during the days of partition when he used to teach me History during my grade school. He often used to remark, “You just cannot imagine what things were like during those days.” Reading this book went a long way in opening my eyes to the horrific reality that partition actually was.
There were a few things I found puzzling though. There is no mention of some prominent leaders of independence like Rajagopalachari. Even Mahatma Gandhi is mentioned lightly here and there. If I remember my History correctly Rajagopalachari or Rajaji as he was commonly known, was one of the first leaders to controversially accept the reality of partition.
But despite this, the book is quite accurate and does ample justice to an important piece of India’s History. Lord Mountbatten’s role is described accurately and so are the roles played by Nehru, Patel, and Maulana Azad. I can see the author has done a lot of research and has fictionally reconstructed History with verve, imagination, and accuracy. This book can definitely be made into a movie. The two parallel threads, one based on events in Lahore and another in Delhi are very subtly brought together towards the end. In fact, so subtly that one might miss it.
This book is the first one in a trilogy and I have already made up my mind to read the remaining two books. This book has made me a fan of the author and this is the first book of hers I am reading. Kudos to her for churning out a masterpiece.
A Very Big Yay! This is an excellent book. Do pick it up. It has the ability to take the reader right back to the tumultuous days preceding India’s independence.
I am going with 5/5 for Manreet Sodhi Someshwar’s “Lahore: Book 1 of The Partition Trilogy”. I thought of deducting 0.5 points because I felt the role played by a few important leaders of India’s independence struggle was missing in the book. But then I felt I was nit-picking. This is really a wonderful book that deserves a full rating.
This review has been written as part of Blogchatter’s Book Review Program