Lahore interesting first part of The Partition Trilogy. It was thought-provoking, insightful, and emotional historical fiction about partition and how that affected lives of people.
Lahore (The Partition Trilogy, #1) by Manreet Sodhi Someshwar
Publication Date : September 30th 2021
Publisher : HarperCollins India
Genre : Historical Fiction
Pages : 328
Disclaimer – I received this book as part of Blogchatter Book Review Program, in exchange for an honest review.
This post contains affiliate links.
In the months leading up to independence, in Delhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Vallabhbhai Patel are engaged in deliberations with British Viceroy Dickie Mountbatten over the fate of the country. In Lahore, Sepoy Malik returns home from the Great War hoping to win his sweetheart Tara’s hand in marriage, only to find divide-and-rule holding sway, and love, friendships and familial bonds being tested.
Set in parallel threads across these two cities, Lahore is a behind-the-scenes look into the negotiations and the political skullduggery that gave India its freedom, the price for which was batwara. As the men make the decisions and wield the swords, the women bear the brunt of the carnage that tears through India in the sticky hot months of its cruellest summer ever.
Backed by astute research, The Partition Trilogy captures the frenzy of Indian
independence, the Partition and the accession of the states, and takes readers back to a time of great upheaval and churn.
Lahore was interesting political historical fiction that revolved around end of the British rule, the independence of India, and how that caused political and religious upheaval that affected life of people in Punjab and other provinces. The story was about the cataclysm of partition, civil war, social discrimination, influence of politics and political decisions on common people, communal strife, friendship, and love.
Writing was interesting, vivid, atmospheric, and steady paced. It was told in third person narrative from multiple perspective, set alternatively in Lahore and Delhi from Feb 1947 to Sept 1947. Lahore part told the story of common people through fiction characters while Delhi part was all about politics, political negotiations, what leaders were thinking, how civil war affected them, and under what condition political decisions were taken.
Story started with Dickie Mountbatten appointed as last viceroy with a strict order of wrapping things in India, transfer the power to Prime Minister of India by the deadline of August 1948 but things weren’t going to go smooth with congress desperate for free Indian and obstinate Muslim league leader Jinnah wanting his own nation for Muslims, and Conrad Corfield’s statement about more than 500 princely states being free once British transfer their power. A great political gamble that caused civil war in Lahore that affected the life of ordinary people -two friends, a Hindu and a Muslim trying to save each other’s lives from their own communities; Sepoy Malik, WWII returnee, bidding his time to ask hand of her beloved in marriage; Kishan Singh, a station clerk, with three daughters who kept tabs on everything going on through newspapers but couldn’t anticipate danger coming to his home.
It was interesting to read how Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel were going to deal with the civil war and partition that they were against of but as time passed it seemed the only way to solve the problem of civil war, role of the last viceroy, why the independence was sped up to be within couple of months even though the deadline for British was 12 months away, how they were going to divide Punjab, and how Nehru and Sardar Patel are going to unite more than 500 princely states into India in just two months, definitely impossible task!!
Even after 74 years, it’s never easy to recall this time period. Independence that cost lot more than just division of the nation, a feud it caused all those years ago between religious community still has its scar over people and nation and beneath that scar wound is not healed when we look at political issues going on between India and Pakistan. And I’m still surprised seeing hatred in people about it. It has caused some kind of stigma. I can only imagine what people have gone through during 1947 and reading this made that imagination even more vivid.
This story showed how complicated things and situations were and how it worsened as independence day came. It was tremendously heart-aching to see how it took years for nationalists to work for independence and when they finally got it, the joy of it lasted only a couple of days.
What I liked most was balance between fictional and nonfictional past of the story. I loved reading thoughts of Jawaharlal Nehru, how much civil war affected him and how he worked with Sardar Patel and Lord Mountbatten. It was great to see how Lord Mountbatten worked as the last viceroy of India and helped in making one whole India mission of Gandhi and his associates almost possible. From his situation and other things going on, he could just sit back not do anything or even could make things worse but it was great to see he decided to do the right thing even though negotiating between political leaders of two parties and leaders of princely state proved to be pain in the backside.
It hurt a lot to see people, a community of Hindu, Sikh, and Muslims living together in same area and street, helping each other suddenly had to close their doors, bar the entry of their street, think about their own lives and even leave the state. I could understand how they might have suffered and how bad they felt about the partition. Life they built, land they lived on, had to let go to make a whole other nation where they weren’t welcomed by other community who were their friends and family just few months ago. It’s no wonder some people thought independence ruined their life and it’s even more terrible to see Prime Minister have to take the brunt of it all.
Through fictional characters, Beli Ram and Mehmood, I loved to see the bond of friendship never breaking or wavering even though partition divided these two friends. It was great to see risks they took to save each other’s life till the end. Worst of all was seeing how men became animal and took it out on women and children who had nothing to do with anything going on. My mind was rattled reading all inhumanity and cruelty of people. This book raised many emotions. It was impossible not to be touched by this story for any readers.
The climax was interesting with turn of events both in politics and in characters’ lives. It was hard to see some characters going through unfortunate events and some having terrible end while some had to run for their lives. The end wasn’t exactly a cliffhanger but as this was first part of the trilogy, it was abrupt and some things were left to be revealed in next book, like what would happen to some characters now and what will happen to disputed states like Kashmir and Hyderabad that didn’t agree to be in India yet.
Why 4 stars-
As this was plot and political driven story, I felt characters weren’t given enough depth. I was most interested in reading how they negotiated with 500+ Princely states and there wasn’t much detail on that, we just see one scene on the king of Bhopal creating the problem. I would have liked more such scenes or details on Viceroy and Sardar Patel’s conversations with these Princes and how they agreed to join India.
Overall, Lahore was thought-provoking, insightful, and emotional historical fiction about the India-Pakistan partition with well-balanced fictional and factual stories.
I recommend this if you like,
Politics and civil war
Well balanced fictional and historical part
Plot and political driven story
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