New York, NY, United States | Member Since 2009
Although this book was slow to start, and depressing at times -- for who wants to read about the final days of a love affair? -- my appreciation for the book's structure only increased as the tale progressed. The characters that we meet in 1947 are revealed to us, bit by bit, as the author follows them backwards in time, to 1944, and then 1941. In retrospect, the reader is forced to re-examine her opinions about the characters. Though I never did understand what made Kay and Julia fall in love with Helen--she seemed like the least sophisticated of the three--the contours of their love triangle shifted and re-arranged themselves as the narrator followed them back in time. Similarly, offhand phrases uttered in 1947 are explained when the narration follows the characters backwards in time; we understand, for example, that the immense loss that one character suffered was due not to the war, but to betrayal. Objects that hold a mysterious significance in 1947 -- a worn gold ring, a luxurious pair of pajamas -- become linchpins of the story when they make later appearances in 1941 and 1944. These details kept me listening, and made this book an exploration of time and meaning, as well as wartime and forbidden love. The narrator had an excellent command of British regional accents, which made for a delightful listen.
The narrator of "The Indian Clerk" is a reserved, gay mathematician (G. Hardy, a historical figure) from a middle-class background who, despite belonging to one of the most elite intellectual societies of his day, always feel a bit out-of-place in pre-WWI Cambridge. With a fellow mathematician, he manages to bring an obscure Indian mathematical genius, Ramanujan, to study and work at Cambridge. The book is a nostalgic account of an imagine relationship between the two men, one English, one Indian, who are united by their love of mathematics and divided by their cultural differences. A superb depiction of the pre-WWI and WWI era (one of my favorites to read about), as well as a bittersweet tale of a man's love for another.
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