Tuesday, April 05, 2011 Posted by Dina N
On the outskirts of a small town in Bengal, a family lives in solitude in their vast new house. Here, lives intertwine and unravel. A widower struggles with his love for an unmarried cousin. Bakul, a motherless daughter, runs wild with Mukunda, an orphan of unknown caste adopted by the family. Confined in a room at the top of the house, a matriarch goes slowly mad; her husband searches for its cause as he shapes and reshapes his garden.
As Mukunda and Bakul grow, their intense closeness matures into something else, and Mukunda is banished to Calcutta. He prospers in the turbulent years after Partition, but his thoughts stay with his home, with Bakul, with all that he has lost — and he knows that he must return.
An Atlas of Impossible Longing features three generations of one family, spanning half a century. They survive events big and small, tragic more often than not. Time is a relative term, with decades flying by and moments stretching longer than expected. Ms. Roy pens exquisitely beautiful prose where words are like the strokes of a paint brush. Colors and sounds come alive and I could almost smell the fragrant flowers, see the river and hear the animal noises. An Atlas of Impossible Longing is not a light and happy read but it is a captivating one that will stay with me long after I've turned the last page.
Disclaimer / Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy with no obligation for a positive review. No compensation - monetary or in kind - has been obtained for this post. Photo and book info courtesy of the publisher.