Book Review: The Heavens We Chase
There are times when a novel is judged by its cover and title, rather than the blurb. This is one of those times. Our life goes in pursuit of better things, our heavens. The title The Heavens We Chase, along with a beautiful cover, appealed to me, and I took it up for review. The genre of the book is historical fiction.
The novel shares the story of Satya and Saraswati, father and daughter. It shifts between past and present as well. Satya, an eleven-year old child, commits what is the ultimate act of treachery – theft. The villagers believe that the God who watches over the village will punish the wrongdoer. Satya cycles away to Bombay, not just to escape the punishment, but also chasing his heavens.
Twenty years later, he has become a high ranking official – the Educational Inspector of the Bombay Presidency. He sets the syllabus more oriented toward Pythagoras, Galileo, and Aesop’s Fables instead of Aryabhatta, Panini and Jataka Tales. His daughter Saraswati, on the other hand, loves patriotic songs, and falls in love with Professor Hamid, who teaches subjects quite against what her father loves. Her heaven is simpler than what her father aspires – she wants love and acceptance, and also respite from her father’s cruelty. Her heaven is the opposite of her father’s.
I very rarely take this long to finish a novel (of around 250 pages) once I start reading. The idea behind the story is a good one, one of contrasts. It has two characters, one who chases materialistic heavens like money and privilege, and another who aspires for happiness, love and acceptance. The narration between past and present is appealing too. The character sketches are well done. The writing is quite decent as well. What the story needed most of all was emotion. The characters didn’t feel real, and I couldn’t relate to their joys or miseries. There isn’t a lot of pace, but that is understandable, given the genre. But combined with the lack of emotion, it feels slower than it actually is.
It’s not a tale I’d re-read, but I do think the author’s next work would be worth reading. There’s something about the writing style and story idea in particular that makes me think she deserves a chance with her next novel.
Title: The Heavens We Chase
Author: Lavanya Shanbhogue-Arvind
Publisher/ Imprint: Roli Books
Genre/ Sub-Genre: Fiction/ Historical
Rating: 3.25 of 5.00
Reviewed for: Publisher
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