Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Leela's Book- Alice Albinia: review

While it describes the journey of Leela, the protagonist from New York to Delhi, it traces the lives of two families to be joined in marriage, and links them up in ways which are quite alarming. It is quite clear from the beginning that the father of the groom is enamoured by Leela, the aunt-by-marriage to the bride. What is the connection between Ved Vyasa Chaturvedi and Leela- after all Ved Vyasa was married to Leela's sister till she died. The plot includes the driver-servant love story, where the servant is raped by the brides father, the steamy love affair between the groom and the brides brother, the brides sisters marriage to a Muslim boy and being thrown out as a result (progressive, mind you, he asks his wife not to cover her head) and the brides father's own thwarted political and social ambitions. It is too convoluted and the connection with Ved Vyasa and Ganesha of Mahabharata is far fetched and somehow woven into the tale. But the characters are fun to know, and they stay with you for some days after finishing the book.

Alice Albinia is the author of Empires of the Indus: The Story of a River (2008) which won a Somerset Maugham Award, the Dolman Travel Prize, and the Jerwood/Royal Society of Literature Special Prize for non-fiction. Alice read English Literature at Cambridge University and South Asian history at SOAS. In between, she lived for two years, in Delhi, working as an editor and journalist with the Centre for Science and Environment, Biblio: A Review of Books, Outlook Traveller and various other Indian newspapers and magazines.
(From her blog