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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Review: Touching Earth by Rani Manicka

I'd heard a lot of good reviews about the book 'Rice Mother' by Rani Manicka, but never actually got around to reading it. So when I accidentally came across her second book 'Touching Earth' at a re-sale old books shop, I was pleasantly happy and picked it up almost instantly. Can you imagine how much I got if for? Just for INR 25, which less than 1USD !!!!

Here are the book details:
Title: Touching Earth
Author: Rani Manicka
Publishers: Sceptre
No. of Pages: 432

Before I go for the review, a brief look at the story:

Touching Earth is essentially the story of two Balinese twin sisters - Nutan and Zeenat, who are forced by circumstances to shift base from their beautiful paradise island to the disturbing and sordid streets of London. Living a life of dreams, magic, spells and innocence, the sisters suddenly find themselves in a world that is trapped in the web of lust, sex, prostitution, and something that kicks it on - heroin addiction.

The sisters are brought to London by their father, and both girls have big dreams in their eyes, dreams that begin to vanish soon after their father returns back home, leaving the girls to fight their way alone in a new big city, one that is getting ready to spin its web around them.

The other key characters are:

Ricky Delgado: A young charming Sicilan, who loves to trap people in his deadly life web of sin and addiction. He also has an affair with one of the twins.

Anis: The young artist who knows his subjects better than they know themselves.
Elisabeth: Mistress to an Arab billionaire, the cold ice-queen, who guards a terrible secret, one that does not allow her to fall in love.
Bruce: Who ends up falling in love with Elisabeth, who must not love.

I can't really give out too much of the story here, as it will spoil the magic that Rani Manicka creates. The novel is filled with her lyrical style, a sing-song that instantly transforms the readers between the island paradise and the real, modern-day, sordid streets of London. What you read is so powerful that you can't help but turn the pages. As the author takes you through the fate of these young characters whose lives go topsy-turvy with heroin-addiction, she spares you none of the visual and depressing details of an addiction that takes over your life and wrings out every last breath from it.

The book is detailed to the point that it feels the author has done a lot of 'real' research on the subject and spent time with heroin-addicts. The story is dark and at times, depressing, but this does not mean you won't enjoy it. Don't let the reviews of the book being dark and sordid put you off, instead, read the book for exactly the same reason, as this is a book that despite talking about a subject that is essentially not a happy one, will make you flip through the pages and want to know what happens in the end.

Never in the book does the pace get slow or boring. The characters are extremely well-drawn and you feel as if you've begun to know them personally, though the related events are not something that most of us encounter in a regular day. There are many real-life circumstances and events, relationship angles that we may have personally experienced or seen others close to us go through. And of course there are those parts of the narrative which only a creative writer can come up with, which comes with creative license. Though there are parts in the story that you know are purely created out of imagination, you still end up believing the same, such is the power of the storyteller.

I've read a few reviews by other book lovers who mentioned that they were disappointed in the book after having read The Rice Mother, which they thought was brilliant. Well, I don't have any such comparisons to make, and I can definitely say this book is worth a read, especially if you haven't read her first book, and even if you have read her earlier work.

I give FIVE HEARTS to this one:  AWESOME

- Debolina Raja Gupta

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