This week, I am sick and out of commission, that by default means that I need to get hold of a book. Otherwise, I will go insane! So after a long while of thinking and choosing, I went with “Mistress of Honour” by Bhaavna Arora. I went in with zero expectation. I haven’t read her earlier book – “The Deliberate Sinner”. I must say that “Mistress of Honour” has certainly piqued my interest to read the other one. Here is what I think of the book
It takes an army child to actually understand and help us understand the massive excess of stress, duty and passion in the lives of our great guardians in the armed forces and in this aspect, Bhaavna has all bases covered! The narration is tight and slack based on the flow of the tale and not for once did I feel disjoint from the book! Bhaavna’s writing is clean and crisp. It gets to you and holds you. The attention to detail in explaining the psyche and thought pattern of folks who deal with dense situations like whether or not to trust an informant in a jungle with the imminent danger of confrontation with terrorists is simply mind blowing to a civilian like me! I sure don’t want to deal with things like that in my work life! The book makes you tip your hat to the armed forces over and over again!
Operation Blue Star forming the backdrop for Potnis (A Captain in the army) and Pansy meeting and going on to discover love, passion and a marriage with the help of an endearing Shamsher is very well set and explained. The character of Shamsher stays with you so much that you will be forgiven for sometimes liking the character more than Potnis. The lovable Shamsher also has a sober side where as a sikh, he is part of the operation and proclaims “duty is religion”. That one touched me a lot. The efforts that this guy puts in to get Potnis propose to Pansy makes me want a friend like him around me! Very well crafted character.
Potnis and Pansy have a daughter Rihana and she is in love with Advik. I like the way Advik’s NDA stint is explained and laid out. From the deep understanding of the qualities needed to be a soldier, to how to use bread in porridge to eat more! I almost felt like I was going though the NDA myself.
The choice of nation over person that every armed forces person makes takes the center stage and is the fulcrum of the plot. Potnis, Pansy and even their daughter go through testing times due to this. Also it is very clear that the armed forces are the heroes of this book.
The downside to the story is that I sometimes felt like Bhaavna was talking to me and interrupting my chat with Potnis or Advik or Rihana. It is a bit intrusive when it comes to narration. Otherwise well laid out.
Couldn’t put it down till I finished it, but one question in my head lingers on, Bhaavna could easily have made this about strong women characters serving in the army. Given her background and writing skill, she could have easily carried it off. But here we see women as sacrificing sufferers. I request her to explore that angle in her next.
I have avoided giving away the story with great difficulty. A heart breaking Saga of love, courage and sacrifice. Personally, I did not like the end parts. But overall a wonderfully engaging book!