Book cover synopsis: The curtains draw up. Lights are dimmed. The musical is about to begin. As the beautiful princess descends on stage, the mythical creatures from her kingdom come alive. Flickers other. A fairy tale is about to unfold… As young children, we often come across things that stay in our hearts forever. For Appu, it is a fairy tale about a beautiful princess.He lives with her in a world ﬁlled with the magical creatures from her kingdom until the real world beckons. A reluctant Appu steps into it as a striking young man and struggles to ﬁnd his place. What follows is an evocative tale of love and loss, friendship and betrayal, as the story travels through the snow-peaked mountains of Arunachal to the golden deserts of Jaisalmer, the tulip gardens of Holland to the lush greens of Kerala. Does Appu ﬁnd what he had set out for? The answer lies in Rafﬂesia – The Banished Princess because in her story, lay his!
After a month long hiatus from reading, I expected myself to take a while before I could get hooked to the book, but much to my surprise I started growing fond of the book in no time. It tells the tale of Appu, an introvert who is too harsh on himself, perhaps way more than it is needed. 48 hours of reading and 396 pages later I shut the book with the thought that Rafflesia the Banished Princess Is real and riveting.
Why you ask? Read on….
1. Not another fairy tale: While the protagonist, Appu (Apurva Sharma) is in awe of his favourite childhood fairy tale, Rafflesia; the plot of the book and his life is otherwise. Call it a spoiler but let me tell you, things don’t fix themselves magically till the end; but they’re much like reality as author Gautam concludes, “I waited for an eternity for the sunflowers to bloom. They didn’t. And I waited.”
2. Metaphor for life: Appu’s journey like a rollercoaster with its shares of ups and downs. The alliteration family of love, longing, loss and loneliness find special places through the plot, when you introspect as you read the book page by page, it dawns upon you that this isn’t about the misery that a man’s going through, instead it’s about what life is; full of these shades that get darker as you approach and address them.
3. Down the memory lane: The writing sees a non-linear sequence of events in the plot which takes you back and forth to Appu’s fond and frivolous memories alongside some heart-wrenching moments that have built him into the person he is in the present times. The sharp turns of his memories serve as a reminiscent to one’s own experiences at those walks of life that tuned their perception.
4. The pace of melancholy: If you’ve ever experienced melancholy in the remotest corners of your heart, you would know that it brings time to a standstill, not in a good way. Days become longer, and time, your enemy. In one particular chapter when Appu is in Leeuwarden, the author’s description of his day, “It was not even eight yet,” gives you a heightened sense of his melancholy which like real life reminds you of every passing minute on the clock.
5. You’ve got mail: Through the book, the letters exchanged between Appu and his best friend Rahul make room for the happier moments of his life. Isn’t that a reflection of humans? A little heartfelt mail/message is what it takes to warm the cockle’s of one’s heart.
P.S: If you’re someone with a lower attention span for reading, the book may seem like a bit of a drag because it takes its sweet time to tell a tale; but like they say, good art is not what it looks like, but what it does to us, as for Rafflesia, The Banished Princess is concerned, it makes you revisit every aspect of your own life. Until next time, #StayCurious 🙂 I received a copy from Writersmelon in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.