Tuesday, February 16, 2016
Julia McNally is an old woman now. She watches her body degenerating slowly. It is gradually becoming harder for her to go about her daily routine. Her joints are creaking and she is besieged by ill-health.
She is a retired schoolteacher and lives in a cottage on a remote hill-station along with her faithful retainers who take good care of her. There are caring neighbors that she can depend on. Her beloved granddaughter, Nina, studies in a boarding school close by and visits her whenever she can.
Despite all appearances, Mrs. McNally is not at peace. She is beleaguered by her past. There are secrets she has that she has not shared with those closest to her, her daughter Millie and her granddaughter Nina. Surely they need to be told things from her past that affect them as well. While she is mulling over these thoughts, she finds ghosts from her past reach out to her.
The Face At The Window is beautifully written. It takes some time for the reader to sink into the story, as most things are referenced to, but not explained. Once you get the drift, the story sails along smoothly. A lot happens which keeps you glued to the book.
I grew fond of all the characters in the book. Mrs. McNally is the narrator and she grips our attention and our heart. Nina is a young teenager who is trying to learn about life. She is a happy go lucky child and does not have the angst that her mother and her grandmother suffered from. Dr. Sanyal who takes care of Mrs. McNally’s health, Sumit the author, who lives close-by and is writing a book, Bimla and her husband who are Mrs. McNally’s retainers, Col. Dayal, a neighbor that Mrs.McNally depends on, all these character flesh out the book nicely.
Not all of us are destined to a clear identity. Right from the birth of a child, the parents are around, the family is at hand to provide a child with an unambiguous legacy. What of the orphans? The little babies who are discarded at birth to be brought up in orphanages? What goes on in their minds? Don’t they ever long to learn about their natural parents? What of the people who die in disgrace and are buried hurriedly, do they return as ghosts?
Kiran Manral has written books that cover all sorts of genres. All Aboard was a light romance as was Once Upon a Crush. The Reluctant Detective was a delightful book about a housewife who is drawn into solving a mystery. The Karmic Kids is about parenting.
It is heartening to see a young author experimenting with so many genres and coming up with this lovely tale where the main protagonist is a 75-year-old woman who has an unusual story to tell us. The ending will blow you away.