Lost Soul by Malika Gandhi
Touching, reflective and romantic – Malika Gandhi has crafted a gentle book that just washes over you. A lovely read, with so many different themes.
The story is set in a small remote Indian village both today and a hundred years ago and in London now.
The change of Aanchal’s haveli from a family home to a museum would you expect herald a very different Indian village today from a century ago. Yet, I found the difference in the village harder to see than I expected.
Marriage featured heavily, it was interesting to compare Aanchal’s marriage a century ago with that of Anupam today. By showing Aanchal’s journey from her home as a relatively young girl to married lady and daughter-in-law you see arranged marriage in a different light. You ask yourself what has changed? Which seemed the more genuine love?
Of course, love was a strong theme in this book. What I liked was the different portrayal of love centred around Aanchal. Her relationships old and new showed the different aspects of love from sexual/romantic to parental and siblings to friends – blood family isn’t the only family. The evolution of Vijay’s feelings and the comparison to Kunaal showed how those that love them are often blind to the obvious, and yet for both parental love does shine through, even with the cultural issues looming large.
Jennifer’s role in highlighting the cultural differences – time period aside – was important. There was real charm in the subtlety of Kunnal trying to have one difficult conversation with his parents, just as the sadness of Vijay’s situation.
The change in the role of the British is very much a back drop to the story, and allows the author to show how the British once the ruling elite are today tourists wanting to know and share in their Indian heritage.
And then there is Aanchal the spirit herself. As a spirit she generated such wildly different responses from those she came into contact with but this seemed to me to be culturally independent. The response from those frightened by her to carry out an exorcism would be the same in Britain, sure the religious aspects would slightly differ but I was struck by the similarities. Fascinating.
The one struggle with this book, is that in using Indian terms the author explain them. Whilst, it needed to happen it did restrict the flow at times and annoyed me. I don’t know how it could have been done better, but I just wish it had been.
thank you to the author for kindly giving me a copy of her book in return for an honest review