Vestal McIntyre's Reviews > A Life Apart

A Life Apart by Neel Mukherjee
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Jun 14, 2011

Sensual, beautiful, and gut-wrenchingly sad, this is the story of Ritwik, a boy who moves from the slums of Calcutta to Oxford on scholarship. In his attempts to stay in the country after graduation, he falls down a rabbit hole into a world of danger and exploitation: picking strawberries in the fields of Kent and hustling at King's Cross, all the while serving as a live-in nurse for a demented woman in her nineties, Anne Cameron. Ritwik’s relationship with Anne gives rise to some of the most tender and genuinely moving scenes I’ve read in recent years. Interspersed with Ritwik's story are sections of the novel he's writing about an English governess in India in at the turn of the century. This “book-within-a-book ,” fascinating in its own right, contrasts with and illuminates the main story. I read A LIFE APART a while ago, after it won India’s Vodafone Crossword Award, but I still get a chill when I think back on it.
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