Her Highness of the Hills

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Jun 13, 2014 in Rat News | Subscribe

Book: Maharani

Author: Ruskin Bond

Publisher: Penguin

Pages: 180

Price: Rs 299

Ruskin Bond has always known how to tell a story, with precision and devoid of show. His stories read like birdsong, sweet, on key, predictable. You are happy to hear it even if you know it is unlikely to move you to tears or raptures. He describes his style best in his latest novella Maharani, “There’s just one way to write: put pen to paper and allow the words to come by themselves. As they will, if you don’t interrupt and don’t juggle them around too much.” His words flow straight from thoughts or experiences to page without consideration to technique or other contrivances.

In a writing career that spans half a century, he has become one of India’s most beloved authors because of this assured simplicity. Reading him is to sit on the porch with a genial old uncle, warmed by tea and anecdote on a winter’s afternoon. He has made the hill station story a trope in itself. The canvas remains limited, that of a small town, a few characters (the weirder the better), earthy pleasures, the lingering ghost, resonant experiences and nature’s splendour. Sometimes that is all you need. But at other times it’s just a blip of relief in an all-too messy reality. 

In Maharani, Bond once again spins a story of eccentric characters against dramatic sunsets. H.H. Maharani Sahiba of Mastipur (Neena to her close friends) is a dog-loving, Patialia-peg-drinking, love-making erstwhile queen now living in Hollow Oak in Mussorie. Married to a prince consumed by his pet rats, and mother of two effete sons, she busies herself with wild parties, new lovers and the choicest liquor. Bond and she share a fluid friendship, one that starts with a hasty adolescent kiss, and evolves into one of trust over the decades.

… contd.



Tags: Maharani, Ruskin Bond, Penguin

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