The Chronicler of the Hooghly and Other Stories by Shakti Ghosal #BookReview #Shortstories #Historical #Fiction @esgeemusings

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My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Many thanks to the author for a chance to read and review this book. All opinions are expressed voluntarily.

The Chronicler of The Hooghly and the other stories is a collection of short stories that takes the reader thru a whole gamut of emotions from joy to nostalgia to sorrow. The themes that are conveyed thru each story are varied and are such that make one pause and think. The Chronicles of Hooghly and other stories is a genre-bending novel with plots ranging from historical to fantasy and also the current pandemic giving a glimpse of life thru its characters taking us on a journey to Kolkata, Delhi, and also a part of Muscat that feels so sublime and peaceful.

Ashtami is the story steeped in the history of India’s independence from the British Raj and the course of a family’s life thru the turbulent years that shaped the communalism in India. We follow Sujit and Bina in their quest to establish a peaceful life. Shanti their 4th child is born mentally and physically challenged but it is the year of independence that gives them the ultimate blow and the family never recovers from the loss incurred. Bina’s effort to escape to the world of rituals and mantras was easily relatable as a mother’s grief knows no boundary. The melancholia tone of the story tugs at the readers’ heart making us feel for the dependent Shanti for whom the world will always remain dark and bleak.

Pandemic as the name suggests revolves around a couple’s life during the lockdown and subsequent ‘work from home’ option. The author deftly manages to weave a story of Dipen in 1919 offering a historical look into the woes of the people during the pandemic of that time and then taking us to a young couple in 2020 who are forced into proximity coz of the same reason. The element of anxiety that is introduced into the story was brilliant. I had a hard time trying to envision the direction of the story but that ending once again is gonna leave the reader thoughtful and pensive.

Fault Lines, the word meaning refers to a geological fault on a rock surface or the ground and exactly like these fissures, a gas explosion in Anjan’s life turns his life upside down with an unexpected result. I loved how the author has used the question of moral rights and wrong in a variety of situations and the factor of self-respectability or integrity that is laced thru the story of Anjan and his wife Jaya. The closing chapter is a triumph for the reader as Jaya’s introspection of her life forces her to choose a path less-traveled and thus reinforce gospel truth, Ain’t karma a b***h?

The Chronicler of Hoogly one of the best stories that I have read in recent times interlaces history with the current plot of a young man struggling with stunning blows one after another. There’s a mystique that permeates the chronicler who travels with Samir and talks about the mukto mala or the seven-strand pearl necklace that has been witness to the Machiavellian plotting and the avarice of the people involved throughout history. The author treats the reader to a fascinating tale of a woman’s schemes and political byplays that ravaged our land and destroyed its wealth and prosperity.

The stories are described as crucibles and truly each story beautifully conveys human failings across centuries to the present times interlinking various subjects of greed, treachery, grief, betrayal, and thereby causing a soul-searching and contemplative mirror to be held up by all of us.

I realise today, what I could not then, that it takes greater strength to give up what you love than to hold on to it.

Four stories. Five crucible experiences.
As Samir embarks on a sunset cruise on the Hooghly, he meets the enigmatic Chronicler who takes him on a two and a half centuries journey surrounding the curse of a fabled pearl necklace, as mentioned by his dying mother.
Spanning between the pandemics of 1919 and 2020, Dipen and Indranil are confronted by tragedies under vastly different societal conditioning and development.
As the capital of the British Raj shifts to Delhi in 1912, Junior Clerk Sujit with wife Bina is forced to migrate. Shanti, born of a forceps delivery gone horribly wrong, comes into their lives.
Suffering severe injuries from a gas explosion, Anjan meets Savio who brings him face to face with the private demons from his past. But past demons do have a way to come into one’s present with life changing consequences. Who is Savio?

AMAZON INDIA

GOODREADS

Amazon International site

This review is published in my blog https://rainnbooks.com/, Goodreads, Amazon India, and Twitter.

6 thoughts on “The Chronicler of the Hooghly and Other Stories by Shakti Ghosal #BookReview #Shortstories #Historical #Fiction @esgeemusings

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