I keep a look out for Indian authors or authors from the Indian subcontinent. I don’t get as many books here in the library, as I would have liked, so I pick up whatever I do chance upon.
The Death of Mr Love is based on a real life incident, the Nanavati murder in the late 1950s. The blurb says.. The reverberations from the notorious Nanavati society murder in 1950s Bombay – the fatal consequence of an affair between an Indian playboy and his married English lover – were so great that the reached the offices of Prime Minister Nehru and irrevocably changed the face of the Indian justice system.
The author weaves a fictional tale using the backdrop of the murder case. Bhalu, in modern day London, meets his childhood friend Phoebe, whose mum, Sybil and Bhalu’s mother, Maya were great friends when they were both growing up in India. Bhalu’s mother had just passed away, and reading through her documents he comes across several documents which puzzles and interests him.
Meeting Phoebe results in more revelations and the two of them travel to India in search of the truth. They believe that there is a second unpunished crime which got hidden in the uproar of the murder case. A crime that destroyed 2 families, and exiled them to far-off England. A crime that still seems to be capable of creating an impact in Bhalu and Phoebe’s lives.
The story spans 5 decades, two countries and a bunch of very interesting characters. It feels to believable, so plausible, and makes you wonder – what if that were in case the fact.. The author also transports you to the places(Ambona, Bombay) with some wonderful descriptions. The story also traces the political situations in India, and how old friendships get changed, modified with time and circumstances.
As for the characters, I felt sorry for Bhalu, while Phoebe just evoked irritation in me. Somehow, despite the life that she had, she as a character, did not evoke much sympathy, probably because she remains quite a mysterious figure till the end. Other characters like Maya, Jula, Katy(Bhalu’s wife) are quite well fleshed out.
Would I recommend it? I certainly would. There are places where the narrative gets a little slow, and you almost want to give up, but all in all, it is an interesting book. I was fascinated by how well fact and fiction were interwoven. An interesting, but bulky book.