Book review | Prisoners of Secrets by Lata Gwalani
Author: Lata Gwalani
Genre: Literary fiction, Romance
No. of pages: 168
Published by: Vishwakarma Publications
Published on: 1st September 2020
My rating: ★★★★★
A most unusual story of love.
Do relationships built upon the one foundation that relationships must never be built on – secrets – really crumble?
Set in South India in the 1950s, this is the story of Meera, Manuel, and Shankar – three conflicted souls each with secrets that can destroy the other.
A story told in a way where you, the reader, are privy to the secrets, and made part of the conflict as you watch the story unfurl into consequences that arise when one becomes a prisoner of their secret.
The story follows Meera, a free-spirited Tamil Brahmin girl who is the only girl grandchild to the influential Venkateshwara Iyer of Pollachi. After fighting her way against the patriarch of the family, she finally gets to pursue her higher education.
Manuel dreams of leaving his small fishing village, and explore the world outside. But a dying sister at home and endless responsibilities has held him back. Finally, with his best friend Matthew's help, he flees to Kozhikode to get himself into the college of his dreams. Years later, he crosses Meera's path, when he's appointed as the English professor at the only girl's college in Pollachi.
As love blossoms between the two, strengthened by poetry and rendezvous under the hidden jackfruit tree in their college campus, it becomes impossible for the two to think about life without one another. But fate won't give them the happiness they deserve.
When Manuel is summoned to his native for his mother's sickness, Meera gets married away to Shankar, by her grandfather. There are secrets they both carry, secrets that can ruin Meera's new married life with Shankar. Secrets that carry forward to the next generation.
Prisoners of Secrets is one book that has soothed my soul and broken my heart at the same time. The author's beautiful, lyrical writing is like a band-aid to my soul, and the story broke my heart into pieces. Incorporating poetry from Rumi, Yeats, Shakespeare and many others in the English literary history, the author portrays Meera and Manuel's undying love for each other.
The character development in the book is very well done. How an angsty Manuel becomes a man passionately in love with Meera, is very endearing to read. Also, Meera's change from a spirited, happy person to a subdued, devoted wife after her separation from Manuel hits right in the feels.
The book being set in 1950s South India, is filled with many Tamil and Malayalam terms, which the author has craftfully fit into the book's narration. From backdrop of the story to the scenic descriptions, every little thing in this book is captivating. And when talking about the charismatic writing, I have to talk about how the author used the metaphor of a flowing river to write about Manuel and Meera's love-making. I mean... how beautiful is that?
I urge everyone reading this review to pick up this book. Read it for yourself, gift it to the person you love, use this book as a promise for your infinite love. Meera and Manuel's story is the purest rendition of a wholesome yet heartbreaking love story.
I received a copy of the book in exchange of an honest and unbiased review.