Vikram Seth was born in India. He was educated there and in England, China and the USA. He has written great books in every genre: verse novel (THE GOLDEN GATE); travel book (FROM HEAVEN LAKE winner Thomas Cook Travel Book Award); epic masterpiece (A SUITABLE BOY).
Although listeners miss seeing the dozens of photographs in the print book that allow a person to visually study the principals of this wonderful double biography, audiobook fans are in for a rare but satisfying treat of their own: an author who can read his own work in a compelling and palpable manner. Seth is an excellent reader and his supporting cast of four, who read the numerous letters written to and by the main characters, Seth's great aunt and uncle, do a phenomenal job of bringing the written page alive. The entire package (except for the missing photos; how hard would it be to include a little booklet of them?) is of the highest caliber. Even the music that introduces the sections is fine enough that the composer is credited at the end of the book. Another bonus is a short interview with the author (although it does not provide much more insight than a listener has already gathered). The one complaint is that the four other readers are not appropriately credited for their individual roles, rather than receiving the blanket credit "letters read by." Simultaneous release with the HarperCollins hardcover (Reviews, Aug. 22). (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
'This is an accomplished and profoundly moving work' - Telegraph'[A] Persian carpet of a biography ... pleasurable andastonishing' - Irish Times
Adult/High School-At 17, the Indian-born author left his homeland to study at Oxford. He lived with his aunt and uncle, a middle-class English couple in every way except one-his Uncle Shanti was Indian and his Aunt Henny was a German Jew. Through interviews with his uncle and a trunk of correspondence from his aunt, he is able to tell their story. Readers learn that Shanti, a dentist, lost an arm, and that Henny lost all of her family during World War II. They learn the details of these losses and about the couple's romance. Shanti's story is told first and is in some ways very similar to the narrator's. Henny's story takes up the majority of the book and consists largely of correspondence from before the war until several years after. Hers is mostly a Holocaust story that tells as much about the culture of the time as the woman herself. Finally, they marry, more out of convenience than love, but they stay contentedly together for more than 30 years. The final chapter, a discussion of their estate, seems somewhat rushed and tacked on after the slowly paced narrative that came before. Photographs are scattered throughout. The book is lengthy, but each fact shared is an important building block in telling the tale of this couple in the context of their era. A richly rewarding story.-Jamie Watson, Harford County Public Library, MD Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Seth (From Heaven Lake: Travels Through Sinkiang and Tibet) has written a beautiful and extraordinary biographical and historical memoir that chronicles the lives of his Indian-born uncle, Shanti Behari Seth (Shanti), and German-born aunt, Helga Gerda Caro (Henny). He deftly takes readers on a whirlwind journey from 1970s-90s England to 19th- and 20th-century India to World War II Germany and back to present-day England. In the course of this journey, Seth, at first a near stranger to his childless uncle and aunt, develops a rich and loving relationship with them. Yet despite their closeness, the author senses a reluctance in his aunt and uncle to speak of their past. Seth relies on his own research, interviews he conducted with Shanti, and various pieces of correspondence to unearth the virtually hidden past of his beloved Uncle Shanti and Aunty Henny, bringing their unassuming and complex relationship to light. His writing is engaging and his characters fully developed and quickly familiar. Highly recommended for all libraries.-Mark Alan Williams, Library of Congress Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.