Thursday, June 25, 2015
"Mistress of Honour" by Bhaavna Arora is the tale of a patriot's supreme love and sacrifice for the country. Given the distrust and cynicism with which the Indian Armed Forces is viewed by some of the Indian English Writing brigade, this is a welcome positive look at life in the Army (too positive at some places though; as if a fine Army toothcomb had visited this novel and picked out a few uncomfortable thorns).
It is that novel that you wish were better written - the author's inclination to resort to stock resolutions for sticky situations greatly affects the level of writing. There is a lot of promise and intrigue in the story - Pansy's conflict of emotions at being rescued by the very Army that shot dead her parents, Advik's self harm to tide over his parents' bad marriage, etc. However, none of this is fleshed out well - the characters are miraculously redeemed whenever they come in contact with the Army. Maybe that is what a daily reminder of their closeness to death does to people; however, it cannot be used to condone their conversion into one dimensional characters in the book. The epilogue, although inspiring in its intentions, has the feel of a school drama play with the characters proclaiming loudly their love for the country.
Overall, the novel scores with its noble intentions to portray a life in the Army as the most noble calling in one's life. Just wish it read better.