5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Two Lives (Paperback)
A very moving memoir about the author's great-uncle Shanti and great-aunt Henny. He became very close to them after they welcomed him into their home, when as a seventeen year old he arrived in England to complete his education.
Through the detailed story of these `Two Lives' we learn personal details about how some of the great events of the 20C had an effect on Shanti and Henny.
Vikram Seth decided to write this story of his Uncle's enduring love for Henny, unfortunately after she had died. A chance finding of letters and photographs kept from her past enabled him to find out enough of her side of the story along with many interviews with Shanti in his latter years.
It is long at over 500 pages but I found I read it much quicker than I expected to as I was drawn into the lives of Shanti and Henny.
The details in this sensitively written biography will stay with you for a long time after reading.
I think the poem that the author dedicates to his uncle and aunt at the beginning of the book actually says it all beautifully so I am taking the liberty of reproducing it here.
TO SHANTI UNCLE AND AUNTY HENNY
Some words of yours to me suggested
How, through the fog of peace and war,
A pulse beat on, that, strained and tested,
No loss could mute, nor sorrow mar.
To trace this pulse through its confusions,
Illusions, allusions, elusions,
And limn its complex graph of love,
No skein of words is fine enough.
Does this half-filial endeavour
Hold half a chance of half-success -
Even to track your lives, much less
Not to let these recede for ever?
No, if I'd hoped to grasp the whole;
Yes, if some shard may touch the soul.