I have been reading a lot all these days. Lakshmi Raj Sharma’s wonderful novel The Tailor’s Needle popped up all of a student when one of my friends asked me whether I would like to review a ‘literary fiction’. Because I have read many novels that would come welcomingly to the category of literary fiction, I thought it must be something that is just okay, having a serious or more than serious narrative and no entertainment or interest in the storyline other than knowing the conclusion. Believe me; I was proven wrong by the way this novel unfolded and the way Lakshmi Raj Sharma has dealt with the story. The Tailor’s Needle, at the outset I will say this, is a novel that is modern and youthful in narrative and traditional and a classic in the terms of content and storyline. This is the story there, in short. And let me say about the novelist, L R Sharma, that he is one of the very serious writers writing in English and contributing a lot to Indian English literature at present! His works will be very important for the Indian literature in the coming years as he tries to connect the present with the past and also present examples for the future generation of authors to follow.
The novel has a very straight storyline. It mostly traces the upbringing of three children and their ventures. However, the entire novel revolves around one certain character who is Sir Saraswati Chandra Ranabakshi, a western-educated Indian man who honours his traditions and civilisation but completely welcomes modernity at the same time. Sir Saraswati has three children and all of them are being educated privately by an English governess. Conflict of ideas and clash of intellectual and emotional systems are often visible in the novel. Maneka, Yogendra and Sita, in descending order, are the three children of Sir Saraswati. He ensures that these kids are modern, fashionable and yet very much Indian. which is, as you read the novel you will know, a distant achievement that he seldom gets in the course of the novel.
Young readers will love the character of Maneka as she offers the vividity we, the modern readers, love. She is an independent character, a perfect role model for the modern feminists in India who want to see independent women wandering around and doing things they love, on and off the pages. Yogendra is very much a balanced man and Sita is a perfect kid of her father who obeys him all the ways. Maneka’s life, with a love affair with English man and a failed marriage with the death of her husband, drives the novel to an extent before the narrative shifts to Dehradun where another family enters the story – the Vaish family. There, Yogendra and Gauri’s love affair takes the novel ahead with many questions being raised and many seeds of hope being sown by these two families together. Many among the reading community, top book bloggers in India, have highlighted that Yogendra and Gauri’s love story comes as solace as well as hope for the future if we see it in pre-independent India’s context. I agree…
While things keep happening in the novel, usual amusement is never off the scene. Right from the beginning, the English are at the edge of their seats when they are in front of Sir Saraswati Chandra. The problems of Indian society before independence and also the problems of English rule in India and Indian efforts to get rid of this are very much present in the backdrop, giving the novel a further level of seriousness.
The novel is a perfect example of traditional fiction or literary fiction loaded with interesting elements – and therefore, keeping both the segments of readers intact, the traditional readers as well as the 21st-century modern readers of Indian English literature. You can also get a copy of this novel and see for yourself what the novelist, one of the serious Indian Authors writing in English, has offered in this novel. All the best with your read in advance!
The Tailor's Needle304 RS
Ease of Reading4.0/5
Plot & Theme4.5/5
- Wonderful Storyline
- Simple and Moving Plot
- Broad & Well-addressed Theme