Sunday, 2 October 2016
Book Review: False Ceilings
Publisher: LiFi Publications Pvt Ltd
Publication Year: 2016
False Ceilings is the debut novel of Author Amit Sharma. I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
I have always liked stories that are spread into different generations especially those that revolve around human relationships and emotions. The La(o)st Rights which I reviewed very recently was one of them too. The book has the capability to hook the reader from the very beginning.
The very first look at the cover gives the reader an inclination that they are going to read something that is interesting and complex. The beautiful compilation of the cover left me mesmerized and wondering as to what the story would be about. And as I stared turning the pages, I knew that it was going to be a winner.
False Ceilings is a family saga and story of generations inheriting a secret. The story ranges through a vast period starting from pre Independent India and expanding to the futuristic modern era. There are many characters and the author has done a wonderful job in defining and developing each one. They are very much relatable, flawed and do not seem made up.
The language is simple and easy to read. The book is recommended to those who love mature stories that have some depth. This is a book you would not find many first-time writers writing.
The book takes us through the tale of Shakuntala, a young girl, who has a dreamlike life despite some adversities in the beautiful town of pre-Independence Dalhousie when life changes completely due to a turn of events. The book takes you on a journey through her life and times, her children, grandchildren and beyond. The novel explores India of 1920s and spans to a period in the future till 2050. The tale moves ahead as India undergoes her own period of churning and evolution. The book is an epic tale about a dysfunctional family, as real as it can get and a family secret that binds them and destroys them. There are parts of the book that stun you with the accuracy with which he has got under the skin of the women’s emotions, expectations, their angst and their struggles. The silly tiffs that spiral into larger issues. The daily struggles and the lack of equation between the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law in turn poisoning the lives of many others.
Amit has researched his facts extensively. The story cleverly jumps between fast forwards and flashbacks non linearly. The story spans more than a century, a time which was very eventful in India’s history straddling India’s struggle for independence to freedom, partition, dislocation of people and events beyond right through the wars, 84 riots, Mumbai blasts and so on. He has carefully woven the doom and gloom of the events as they cast their shadow on the life of this one family. His description of Delhi in the pre-independence era to the post-independence era is something that is worth a mention. It is not everyday that you read of how contrasting the two Delhis are. Even the simple and steady lives in the hills of Dalhousie are beautifully described and the characters from the various eras connected to it in some way or the other. A lot of history goes into this writing and I admire the efforts of the author in weaving them seamlessly within the plot.
Amit's prose flows naturally, soothing at times and troubling at others as he gets under the skin of emotions and issues we normally like to sweep under the carpet. He also leaves clever questions along the way that will make you uncomfortable, will make you pause and look for their answers within. Questions we all can relate to.
For a first-time writer to attempt writing of this scale is commendable. The sheer number of characters and events is mind boggling. He has brought out the dysfunctional family beautifully. I think that is how most families are under the gloss and shine. He has chosen a different style of storytelling wherein he has divided all the characters as if they were the piece of a puzzle and jumbled them up, telling each ones story one by one in a random order.
For me, there are two things that stand out about the book. One is the non - linear narrative that the author very skillfully employs and the other is his stark exploration of the human psyche.
False Ceilings is a very intense book. It makes you realize that life itself is nothing but a weird combination of circumstances, missed chances, grabbed opportunities and those almost anguished thoughts of ‘What If ?’ False Ceilings has a secret not to be missed.
Negatives: The book would have done with better proofreading. There are many grammatical errors and typos in the last few pages that distract and take away from the beauty of the storytelling.
Overall it is a good story made beautiful and mysterious by a well-crafted strategic writing.
Rating: 4 on 5