Why does an author write? What is the inspiration behind a novel? With biographies the inspiration is clear, but what about fiction? When I write, it’s usually inspired by some stressor...an even or person that touches my heart. Positive or negative; it’s an emotion that makes me write. And for most of the times, I would like to believe that it is the case with authors.
When you read a book, you can sense that inspiration. In the way a character is shaped, or with words that sound a certain way, or may be how a place is described... you can see and sense the inspiration. When an author is good, you are drawn to the web he creates. Sometimes in a few sentences, sometimes by the title of his story, sometimes all it takes is a look at his first chapter... likes of Matthew Reilly, Khaled Hosseini, and Mitch Albom don’t take long to hook you. In contrast sometimes it takes a Meticulous belief in the story that keeps you hooked, like Cornelia Funke's Ink series... and then there are the other times, when you want to know "WHAT was the inspiration behind all this?"
Unfortunately, Thugs and the courtesan fall in the latter category. I want to say it’s a fascinating novel. I want to say it’s a historically inclined novel filled with unexpected twists and turns. I want to say it presents a world previously unknown. I want to say it offers tales of love, lust and lives lost. I want to say go ahead and ready it.
Sadly, I can’t say any of those things.
Yes, it is a novel set in historical time, but apart from justifying why they travel on foot and horseback, it hardly adds anything to the city.
Yes, it provides view of a previously unknown faction like thugs and their operations, but the thugs and their beliefs are not a central part of the story... for that matter, I am still not sure what the "story" is.
Yes, there is a love story, in fact there are two love stories; but once again what is the point of them if they cannot be linked to the central theme of the novel?
It’s some odd 180-200 pages of things happening. Most of them in a jungle, around or because of the thugs. Of course as the name suggests there is a courtesan also. When I picked the novel to read, as a habit I read the back cover first. And the back cover promised tales of thugs, a view of the world that was fascinating as well as thrilling. So, basically I was ready to immerse myself into the world of intrigue and suspense and cunning. What I ended up with was a mix of tales about thugs killing innocents. I wish the author had taken some time to build the back stories of those the thugs kill. For most part, the thugs and their operations felt like a chronicle rather than narrative. And let’s not get me started with the courtesan... Please
There are elements in this novel that would have made for a GREAT story. Like the intrigue around Chanda bai and Noor Begum. Zalim singh and his romance. The disillusion of the Firangia could have been more effectively drawn. And one thing that could have made a success of this novel... was the language. Gosh, I hate to feel burdened with concentration when I reading for leisure. And this one makes you want to sit up straight and "READ". I wish this was an easier read. I feel bad when a good germ of story is disused like this. I know the author is very passionate about the topic and I wish she reads through my review and work on the suggestions... coz I know she would continue writing and I would like to read something fascinating, riveting and easier on eyes read from her.
As of now... it’s perfectly all right if you pass this on without a backward glance.