The Last Song of Dusk Paperback – 3 Feb 2005
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At the end of his debut novel The Last Song of Dusk, self-styled Bombaywallah Siddharth Shanghvi lists the artists to whom he owes a "debt of music": Bach and Elgar jostle with John Barry and Dido. An equally eclectic and unexpected range of melodies play key roles in this magical, moving tale of love, friendship and dark desire.
Anuradha--the latest in a family line of females gifted with magical songs arrives in Bombay to test the sensitivity of her betrothed, Dr Vardhmaan Gandharva. Passing his test in the nick of time, the newlyweds enjoy an extended honeymoon, spending sultry evenings on their bedroom balcony listening to music and waltzing in tune with their hearts. Their passion for one another protects them from the harsh realities of life, until a stormy night threatens to wrench them apart.
Returning to her family in Udaipur, Anuradha meets the feline orphan Nandini, who has an extraordinary gift for painting her subject's souls and an insatiable appetite for Yeats, a hunger that will one day rise up to haunt her. Back in Bombay the love-worn couple and the precocious artist move into a house and friendships are forged both true and false and the words of Anuradha's mother "in this life, there is no mercy" ring through their lives and those around them. With a gift for epic story-telling akin to Rushdie and Marquez--Siddharth Shanghvi's stunning debut is full of promise. His lyrical prose skilfully blends magical references with stark realism. The Last Song of Dusk is a wise and intuitive novel about the many and varied ways in which human beings love, live and forgive, told with humour, passion and great understanding. --Carey Green
'A magical debut..Madcap characters shimmy across the pages, throwing out slangy witticisms with insouciant charm. Delicious' ElleSee all Product description
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Anuradha's father looked at her..."I suppose they have come to saytheir farewell?"
"Actually," she clarified, her hand on her breastbone, "I calledthem."
This is Anuradha. The main protagonist in Bombay-bred Siddharth DhanvantSanghvi's debut novel.
Engrossing, witty, and very song-like,Siddharth's first book fulfills all the expectations (and more) one wouldlike to have from an 'Indian' writer. His mature, flowing style andcharacterisation make the plots in the novel seem very veryreal...especially the 1920s' house-that-turns-wicked with its sad history;the rich-widow-turned-high-society-hostess Radha-mashi; the orphanNandini's feline connection and how her art grows with her; the truecolours of Khalil Muratta and Libya Dass, Vardhamaan's inefficiency tocope with his loss, and how it affects his marital life. The best ofall... Anuradha, whose mother's parting whisper before her marriage,echoes throughout the book and takes us through the highs and lows of herlife.
This story is about the symbiotic relation between all these characters,the love they share, their fears and truths, and years later, theliberation of the Gandharvas' silent son, from his mother's songs, and thecollective past. Yeats' poems and Schumann and Mendelssohn's music play inintervals in the book too, pretending to soothe harsh realities.
Being an Indian myself, *and* a girl, it was easy to relate to themother's wise words as the book began; it reminded me of haunting storiesin my own childhood, and I could justify the events as the pages flew by.
Like some of the books by Chitra Divakaruni Banerjee, Siddharth Sanghvities future incidents to the present situation in many places in thistale. Though sometimes this might prompt you to create your own questionsand answers about "what will happen?" in the end, it is sure to cleverlybind you to the novel, till the very last word.
At one point, Virginia Woolf takes the young 14 year old Nandini aside and scolds her for her outfit the moment she arrives at a party. Had the author done any research on Virginia Woolf he would have found that this outburst is entirely uncharactaristc, and he has based this small exchange on a stereotyped image of her. This type of nievity pops up every now and then throughout the novel and ultimately made me put it down.