Disclaimer: I do not really believe in Book Reviews because every book is a treasure in itself. This post is not meant to be treated as critical review and should be more of a conversation between me and you (Read: The reader reading this post, for which I thank you so much, btw). Feedback is always welcomed
Imagine a perfect Sunday evening. You are sitting by the window, cold wind is spreading a chill and you look out of the window, sipping hot coffee, and you feel that something is missing. An intense desire to read an amazing book with such a perfect environment keeps on nudging you. Maharani, a novella by Ruskin Bond is one such book that fits in your Sunday evening treat.
It is nothing extraordinary or astonishing. It is a lucidly written story about the infamous Maharani of Mastipur. Ruskin bond has written this in the first person making himself a part of the book. It gives an insight into the entrancing life of the royal household and the bewitching fate of these princely states.
Set in the serenity of the hills of Dehradun and Mussoorie, Maharani is a very beautifully written book. Ruskin ran into Neena, the Maharani at a school dance in his high school and that is where all of this started. The book covers the life of the notorious maharani and a little sneak-peak into Ruskin’s life. She was married to the King of Mastipur when she was very young. Mother to two kids, she never was a quiet woman and people addressed her as H.H (Her Highness). She loved adventure and parties. She had hobbies similar to the Maharaja, which attracted him so much towards her. Neena was the second wife; his first wife was taken ill and later died owing to her scandalous love affair with the driver. The driver was killed by Maharaja’s soldiers when the affair came into limelight.
We see a very mysterious character play a very important role in the lives of people living in the Mastipur palace – a nun. As per speculation, she was a spy and was given refuge by the king as she was his aunt. After Maharaja’s death, we see her loosening her strings and getting involved in various love affairs with famous men and keep herself drenched in alcohol. She was the epitome of pride, attitude, beauty and confidence. She did not want her life to be lesser than a party. We also see other characters who play quite a role in Ruskin’s and Neena’s life. Maharani falls in love with Ricardo, the diplomat from a Bolivian family that was posted in Dehradun as a part of the foreign embassy. The family is allowed to stay in the mansion while Maharani and Ricardo go about enjoying the affair. Ricardo’s son becomes really good friends with Ruskin and spends time with him watching cinema and playing music. Later, many other lovers appear showcasing the disreputable nature of the Maharani. As the time passes, the beauty fades away, but what remains is the same arrogance and boldness that she possessed. The later part of the story is about how her two sons, whom she disowned and disbarred from her property, try and create trouble for her to get a hold of her property and how she got close to Ruskin and confided in him in the last years of her life. She was old and it did not suit her, she was completely sane yet fears took hold of her which made her lose control.
The way Ruskin Bond narrates the episodes and extracts are so very lively. All you have to do is sit back and let him draw the story. A very simple tale and an amazing read!