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Two Lives Hardcover – 12 Sep 2005
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This is an accomplished and profoundly moving work (DAILY TELEGRAPH)
Written as an act of love and duty it is a testament to his modesty and familial affection. (SUNDAT TIMES)
A fascinating and honest read. (TRIBUNE)
Seth is a thorough biographer, but his considerable narrative skill is as evident here as it is in his fiction... One of the beauties of TWO LIVES is that it transcends its subject matter, becoming a celebration of endurance, a recognition of all lives pun (SUNDAY BUSINESS POST)
*A story of love and survival amidst the great events of the twentieth century.See all Product description
Top Customer Reviews
Shanti and Henny have become as real to me, as any of my own relatives, in telling us about them Vikram Seth has done a wonderful job. He has written about these two lives, with affection, and great love, but also with real truth.
Shanti came from India to Germany to train as a dentist where he met Henny, a young Jewish woman. Eventually Shanti went on to London to work and eventually Henny escaped from Germany too and the pair married and made a life together in Britain. The author stayed with them when he studied in Britain and so he tells their historical stories as well as explaining how they were when he knew them. The other part of the story is Shanti's family stories and how this affected him in Britain and Henny's family and friends and what happened to them during the war in Germany. The author does flit around from one aspect of the book to another but I never felt confused.
The story is compelling and the author tells it with real affection for his relatives. He does not, however, hide their faults or even his own so the people about whom he is writing feel very real. I found Henny's life as a German refugee and Jew during the 1930s and afterwards fascinating especially her experiences in finding out what had happened to her family and friends as well as having to deal with people whose war time activities were dubious. I was surprised to find that Shanti's story and his struggles to succeed as a foreign dentist especially after he lost an arm in the war was also as gripping. The parts where the author makes an appearance were less satisfying but they did frame the story well and show what had happened in the long run.
I do enjoy a family memoir and this is an exceptional one told with real story telling skill.
As with any memoir the narrative is interrupted by photographs. It is revealing that, by the time the last such section is encountered, the reader feels that he is leafing the pages of his own family album so familiar are the main characters.
"Two Lives" is a great way of demonstrating that a biography need not have a celebrity as its subject in order to be interesting.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a fascinating investigation into the lives of the author's Indian uncle and German aunt. It's an almost embarrassingly truthful account of a couple who may be life partners... Read morePublished 13 months ago by nickyb
Very moving slow accumulation of ordinary lives. Shows how ordinary lives are often extraordinary and the courage that exists within the mundane. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Anne Burge
A new perspective on the implications of race in the twentieth century. Very well written but took me a long time as I was alternately interested and then disinterested in the... Read morePublished on 29 Aug. 2014 by David Stockdale
the author 's tenacity to research and narrate a life is remarkable and imprints a permanent picture on the reader.Published on 5 Feb. 2014 by Amazon Customer
This has to be one of the most powerful and moving books I have ever read in my life. Vikram Seth's biography of his aunt and uncle is told with grace and sensitivity. Read morePublished on 22 Oct. 2013 by Aurora
Autobiographies and Biographies have always interested me, so I've read many during the past 50 years. Read morePublished on 27 July 2013 by A. M. Smithwhite
.......but about two thirds of the way through it seemed to get bogged down in too much detail about Henny's German friends and acquaintances and I felt it rather lost the plot. Read morePublished on 29 Jun. 2013 by Nightowl