Verity by Colleen Hoover

Title: Verity
Writer : Colleen Hoover
Published: 2018
Genre: Fiction
My Rating: 4 on 5

There have been many instances in the past where a book has got me so hooked that I have sacrificed sleep, pulled an all nighter, just to see what happens next in the book and how it ends. While this was common during my teenage or 20s days, this is a rare phenomenon these days. But, there comes a book which sweeps you off your feet, steals your sleep and does not let you sleep even after you finish reading the book at 4 AM. Verity by Colleen Hoover is one of those books.

Amongst the umpteen books which are labeled #PsychologicalThriller, this book, thankfully, turns out be one. The book literally grabs you from the very first word. A woman witnessing a horrific road accident and getting drenched in blood is how the book opens. What starts off as a big jolt is kept alive all through the book and the twists and turns and the jaw-dropping revelations is what keeps you awake till 4 AM.

Lowen is a mediocre, struggling writer who is trying to make ends meet, while having lost her ailing mother recently. She gets invited for a meeting with a publisher and when she is on the way for this meeting, she witnesses the tragic accident. The kind-hearted man who helps her recover from this shock turns out to be her “client” who wants her to write the final 3 books of the very popular thriller series authored by his wife, as the original writer, Verity, is deposed due to an accident. As part of her research work, Lowen visits Jeremy and thus begins the mind bending, jaw dropping journey for her and the reader. Lowen comes across a manuscript for what appears to be an autobiography of Verity. What begins as an innocent curiosity for Lowen quickly turns into revelation of true colors of Verity and the working of her mind.

Writing is so gripping and the scenes are so well created that as a reader, even being miles away from the actual scene, one can’t help be very scared of Verity – despite she being bedridden. The many shocking moments are created beautifully and I sometimes looked over my shoulder to see if that scene was actually happening in my house. The master twist is the last chapter, which I just did not see coming. This was probably an attempt by the author to answer the verity of “Verity”.

Interesting characters, jaw-dropping twists, quite a few accidental deaths – all ingredients needed to make a great thriller. Throw in a psychotic person as one of your main characters and you have a wonderful psychological thriller on hand.

Entry #3 for The Backlist Reader Challenge 2020

 

 

Freedom at Midnight

Title: Freedom at Midnight
Writer : Larry Collins, Dominique Lapierre
Published: 2001
Genre: Non-Fiction
My Rating: 3 on 5

India’s independence was a moment of celebration, but also a painful memory as the country was partitioned and millions of people lost their lives. Every year as we take pride in raising the tricolor, our heads also hang in shame for the brutality which we caused in the name of religion. While every school teaches the children when India got its independence, very little is said about the events which led to this historical moment and more importantly, the violent events which followed this moment. To fill this void, I decided to read this book, well knowing, that neither of the authors are Indians and nor were they a witness to these events.

The book starts off heaping a huge praise on Lord Mountbatten, who apparently was influential in India attaining her independence. While there may be some amount of truth in it, the sheer adoration, the flowery praises are so over the top that one starts wondering if this book should have been named “An ode to Mountbatten”.

This book is a result of the interviews with Mountbatten and some archives which he had saved over time. This gives the book a very “English” perspective and can come across as biased in some places. Wish the authors had heard the other side of the story too. While the Mountbattens are admired for their bravery and leadership, we do not see the same treatment for Indian politicians. Gandhi is revered, Nehru gets a few notable mentions, Patel is largely ignored and Jinnah is painted as a monster.

This book did strike a chord with the chapters on the actual partition – the drawing of the line – the exodus that followed and the eventual murder of millions of people. The authors paint such a horrid picture of these ghastly events – the train full of corpses is still a haunting visual for me. The mindless pillaging, rapes, murders, mutilation of human beings by other so-called human beings is so mind numbing – one wonders how religion can become more important than human lives.

The book makes a segue into Gandhi’s assassination. This section of the book reads like a thriller – building up suspense, ending the chapter on a cliff hanger – and has all the elements of a page turner.  If you want an outsider perspective on the freedom struggle and eventual independence, albeit with a touch of fictional narrative, do read this book, by all accounts. If you want a more neutral perspective or even an insider view, then pick up a book by local authors, which is what I am planning to do next. On this point, any recommendations on what book I should read on this subject?

 

Entry #2 for Nonfiction Reader Challenge 2020
Entry #1 for The Backlist Reader Challenge 2020