Lester's Reviews > The Shadow Lines

The Shadow Lines by Amitav Ghosh
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's review
Feb 18, 2012

really liked it
Read from February 18 to 21, 2012 — I own a copy , read count: 1

The Shadow Lines is one of Ghosh's earlier books, which speaks of the early brilliance of this author. At the start, the reader is drawn into what appears to be a family history, but the history quickly becomes disjointed and erratic, the time of telling jumping decades ahead, turning the corner into a new story, spinning back, a chapter ending before it has begun! But if you persist, you become aware of a rhythm, a poetic telling of a tale from the past, the present and the future (you are sometimes not sure which). This rhythm begins to accelerate, until you realise that time is converging upon a single event, one that is affected by the pasts being narrated, one that will affect the futures you are being told about. This pace peaks in paragraphs which mix time and space so beautifully and concisely that you are left with your head spinning.

The characters are incredibly vivid, well thought out and all have a place in the story. And the story is a story about stories, and a story about freedom. About how we all live in the story of our lives, but how these stories can be told from mirrored lives (separated by shodow lines) which are all but our own, how we try to achieve freedom in many guises (a teenager's freedom from parents and Indian culture, an activist's freedom from guilt, Hindu and Muslim freedoms from their miror images - each other). The book shows us the futility of trying to achieve these freedoms, but it is done beautifully and poetically. A must-read!
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message 1: by Katy (new) - added it

Katy Anderson Love your review of The Shadow Lines. Would you be interested in putting a question about the book to the author Amitav Ghosh at a recording of the BBC World Book Club on the World Service. If you emailed it to me katy.anderson@bbc.co.uk we will read it out next week at our recording or even ask you to record it for us on the telephone. Many thanks and look forward to hearing from you.

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