I have just finished reading Goodbye to Berlin.
While we do not get a political commentary on the times, we do get sketches of people who go about their lives, not having any idea about the storm that is headed their way.
Books I read, why I like them and why I don't
I am quoting from the blurbs here: "Anurag is a freelance journalist. He belongs to a very old family of Lucknow which witnessed the events of 1857. Ever since childhood he was fascinated by the Great Uprising"
1857 was indeed a very tumultuous time and there were surely some great stories that can be written on that period. My favorite is Ruskin Bond's "A flight of pigeons".
Recalcitrance follows the lives of two friends Chote Bhaiyya and Narinderlal who happen to witness the events that take place in Lucknow at close quarters. Chote Bhaiyya finds himself smitten by a muslim girl, but cannot find the courage to act in time to get close to her.
The problem with the book - despite a story that should practically tell itself, after all the events were happening so rapidly at the time - is that it gives out a very disjointed feel. It proceeds from one event to another without any apparent link. There is no attempt to bring together the events at any later chapter either. Several characters are not named but referred to ambiguously like, "a holy man", a "general" etc. I got the feeling that the author is trying to point to some important historical figures of the time, but I failed to place them.
This incoherence spoils the story and I wish the author had worked harder on it, because it is apparent that the subject is very close to his heart.
Muzaffar Jang is young, intelligent, futuristic and well read. His parents died when he was young. He was brought up by his wise and kindly older sister, Zeenat and brother-in-law. In the first book, Muzaffar takes upon himself the task of investigating a murder to help his friend.The Englishman’s Cameo introduces Muzaffar Jang, a twenty-five-year-old Mughal nobleman living in the Delhi of 1656 AD. Muzaffar ends up investigating a murder of which his friend, a jeweller’s assistant, is accused. The book became a bestseller in India, and was published in French by Editions Philippe Picquier, as Le Camée Anglais.