Book Review : THIS PLACE by Amitabha Bagchi by HarperCollins India


Do great stories need to boast of lavish plot, poignant tale, exotic locales, chivalrous hero and a seductive heroine? Nay, not always, even a sweet little tale can have a mighty impact. My belief in this viewpoint has been resurrected by the book that I have wrapped up two weeks back. The book was absolutely absorbing with its magical charms and I am so happy I got a chance to read it.

Amitabha Bagchi’s book, set in Baltimore in the US is a story of a few people who have been bonded closely as they have been living in one place for long. It revolves around the theme of exile, where there is realization of being away from the loved ones, a sort of emptiness and a feeling of closeness with strangers in the new abode. There comes the news of demolition and the fear of displacement bothers them all.  A few are deeply affected. This neighborhood plot has a great emotional connect.


β€˜The Place’, the title resonates with the theme perfectly. The cover page is beautiful. The shade of blue that dominates it all is captivating and the buildings in the upper half speak about the story. Of course, the stage is set by a crisp blurb and did I tell you I have a signed copy and it is hard bound. I won it in a contest!

Jeevan Sharma is the protagonist of the story, an Indian cab driver who handles accounting work for his landlord. The other characters of the mixed racial community are the Pakistani restaurant owner Shabeer who employs Jeevan, the woman on a run from a failed marriage Sunita, a couple (Kay and Mathew) who have moved in to Baltimore to follow their dreams , Henry, a veteran of World War II, Miss Lucy who is holding on to every bit of the memory of her husband and to the place where she has lived for ages, Rasheeda and Kamran wife and son of Shabeer.  There is immense variety in the different characters of the story. Each one has a varied lifestyle, a past full of ups and downs, unique thoughts and a sense of responsibility to different things in life.  I enjoyed reading about each of them and specially after Jeevan, my favorite was Kay because the woman did what her heart led her into… she acted haywire many a times… and had no pretense.

When the civic authorities decide to demolish the old buildings to reap riches and make the most of it, the people living in Shabeer’s apartments as tenants are worried because they know their landlord’s intentions of minting money at the great chance. In the bargain he isn’t acting heartless, he is ready to provide an alternative but he has a truth to hide.  Jeevan isn’t aware too and he is bent upon to do everything for Miss Lucy who treats him no less than a son.  The plot of the story gets gripping then on. When Sunita, the one who had been married to a miserable guy moves in to live with Jeevan, it feels as if she brings colors to his otherwise monochrome life. Like Jeevan Shabeer’s son, Kamran too feels a sense of duty to save the history. He wants the avert the demolition. Kay and he make attempts to save the apartments unaware of his father’s big plans.

This engaging book pitches reality of life and its facets. Uncertainty, love, selfishness, greed, romance, warmth, human connect all come oozing and reach to the eyes of the readers.  The author has skilfully handled a story of a small area where its not only about the people but the place too. I loved the choice of words put together to weave such a lucid and neat story. And at the end the reader feels content both with what he/she gets to read all along and with the feeling of joy that only an ardent fan of books can describe…

Smileys Won by the Book  πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

Written by

Manjulika Pramod

An engineer who loves to be called a blogger more!
Traveler, short-story writer, voracious reader, foodie is the better me!
Reading, eating, traveling, exploring, observing and blogging are the beautiful highs of my life.