Book Review: The Tale of Two Countries by B.K. Karkra

ISBN 978-812-915-1506

Genre: Fiction

Publishers: Rupa Publishers

Price: Rs. 295/-  ( I got the book for review from the publisher)
Behind the Book

‘…outside environment seemed to have completely overshadowed his genes. He was getting more and more anglicized with every passing year and almost felt embarrassed of being the son of his parents. He felt that they were out of tune with life in Britain…
Having survived the horrors of Partition, young lovers, Guru and Sukhi, begin a journey of blissful matrimony. Supporting each other through the various ups and downs of life, they migrate to England, start a business and see the birth of their only child, Gursukh, in due course. Everything seems perfect, yet the couple makes one last journey—this time, back to India.

What makes them take this journey? Weaving history with fiction, The Tale of Two Countries is a moving saga of a family and as well as a commentary on the lives of hundreds like Grewals who, lured by life abroad, take the plunge and have to deal with both the pressure to make good in an alien land as well as the longing for the motherland left behind.

About the Author

B.K. Karkra has donned four different uniforms in his career: the olive-green of the Indian Army, the khaki of the Indian police, the grey of the National Security Guard and the black of an advocate. He has also written innumerable articles for leading newspapers and authored several books. His last book, Rani Padmini: The Heroine of Chittor, continues to be the go-to book on this subject and was consulted extensively by film-maker Sanjay Leela Bhansali for his magnum opus Padmaavat (2018). He lives in New Delhi, India.

I have always had a soft corner for stories which are set in the backdrop of Partition. Somehow, they always talk to me and make me realize how painful the past has been for our brethren. That was the sole reason for having chosen to read this book which is beautifully titled ‘ The Tale of Two countries’ and has a mysterious cover with an old world charm to convey the poignant theme.

The beginning of the story is in London where the Grewals have just landed from India and are received by their friend Balbir who helps them find a foothold in England. The story further progresses showing the reader their life in London as they try to settle down there and at the same time shows us their past starting from their childhood, the Partition which is a huge life changing incident for all three of them to their migration. The Grewals have managed to get adjusted to new life in England when they are blessed with a son Gursukh. It is all picture perfect, till they decide to make one last trip to India. It is the circumstances of this trip and the reasons behind it which make it a compelling read.

The strongest thing about this book is its plot. It is interesting and has the capacity to engross a reader completely. The characters are well developed and have the capacity to connect with the reader because of their stirring background. However I feel the narrative could have been better to do complete justice to the moving story of the Grewals. The narrative was jumpy at a lot of places where the story changed stances in every chapter leaving the reader high and dry. The editing could have been stronger like the word ‘thus’ has been used too many times in the book diluting the beauty of the narrative and taking away the joy of reading.

However, having said all of the above, this book still remains one which has a beautiful, heartwarming story which should be read. Recommended as a one-time read for people who enjoy family dramas.

Foodie Verdict

This book is like the Karythopita (Spiced Walnut Cake) - delectable in every bite!

Source: Taste