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Book Review: Ancestral Affairs

A family saga depicting major political changes of India, Ancestral Affairs shows how swiftly the political air affects even those people who think they will be untouched from it.

The story starts with Saam Bharucha, a legal adviser who has been recently transferred to Junagadh. He is associated with the Nawab of Junagadh, to help steer the dialogue which will decide where will Junagadh relocate to, India or Pakistan? The Nawab prefers Pakistan, but then Saam is insistent on making him sway towards India. Under pressure and confused about where his loyalty lies, Saam gets into trouble by falling in love with a British lady Claire and cheating on his wife Zarine who stays in different town due to Saam’s job.

Saam then marries Claire, which creates a rift between Saam and his son from Zarine, Rohinton. But Rohinton too, is trouble just like his father. Thrown out from Medical school and being constantly beaten up by beautiful Firoza, his life plays out tragicomic just like his father’s only.

Ancestral Affairs is a book that is about family, whether in 1947 or the new age. Things are still the same with same taboos and restrictions. We loved the grand sweep in the book- From Opium war to sub-continent, Partition and the way events of 1947 have been described, creates a sense of amusement in reader’s mind. We loved Rohinton’s rugged lifestyle and Saam’s confusion. Ancestral Affairs is like a roller coaster ride, some places you will smile and some places you will feel the agony of people.

Overall, Ancestral Affairs turned out to be a good read. Keki N Daruwalla has used first-hand information in creating the story. His father was tutor and guardian of the Prince mentioned in the book. He tried to make the novel as universal as possible by mentioning a trip to Paris and Claire’s hometown. Extensive research was conducted to understand the role of Nawab’s and Prince during the few years left before partition. The only discrepancy we found in the book was it might confuse readers in the beginning. If your focus shifts, you will not be able to understand the core of the story. Ancestral Affairs was not able to grasp the attention in the first go. The interest and engaging factor came from the part where Rohinton was introduced. This is something which might not go well with all kind of readers.

Read more In conversation with Keki Daruwalla

We recommend Ancestral Affairs to all so that everyone can have a taste of Nawab of Junagadh and pre-independence India, something our youngsters would find interesting to read. 🙂

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