I first purchased this book the day it was available in stores and attempted to read it but it simply got on my nerves and I put it down (something I rarely do) after a 100 pages. Mainly cause I felt that the whole thing was overwrought and I wasn’t really going through a great time in my personal life either and the book’s pessimism didn’t do much for me.
Now it’s on the list so I attempted to re-read it.
Plot-wise it’s all about three main characters who lose their innocence in different ways. A Judge who feels like an outcast in both his own country and England. Sai a girl who dates an intellectual turned revolutionary and Biju (the cook’s son), who has immigrated to New York City in order to find opportunities. All the destinies entwine and each character moves through a process of self discovery, not through the best means though. There are other supporting characters who play an important part in shaping these people’s futures and it affects them as well.
Although it is a complex and interesting read, even witty and funny at times I found the whole thing to be remarkably souless, all of Desai’s characters are losers lacking in sympathy and this makes the novel drag at times. With the exception of the Judges’ sojourn in Cambridge (where he acts like a loser as well, but it is humorous) I can’t say I warmed to the book.
Despite this factor I did like the way Desai protrayed a changing India and the generation gap and I did want to know how the novel would unfold and end. It is a pity because this could have been a perfect novel. All it needed was some heart.