Book: The Tailor’s Needle
Author: Lakshmi Raj Sharma
Publication: Penguin India, Dember 11, 2012
Genre: Novel – Historical, Realism, Feminism, Pre-independence
Review by: Rupesh for English Literature Education
In terms of pre-independence novels, it has been a traditional practice in India, by novelists, to portray an India that was ruled by the British with its bright as well as dull colours. It is a trademark that one can find in the novels of Raja Rao, Mulk Raj Anand and to an extent in R. K. Narayan too. However, after these novelists, this tradition has become almost extinct as modern novelists have too many other themes to explore rather than revisiting an India that they did not see. However, there have been a few attempts in recent times. One such attempt at writing a novel depicting India before independence is by a professor of English literature at Allahabad University, Lakshmi Raj Sharma – The Tailor’s Needle.
The novel begins with a description of asserting personality of Sir Saraswati Chandra Ranabakshi, prime minister of Kashinagar. Yogendra, his son, is too little in contrast with Sir Saraswati Chandra and it clarifies to an extent to the readers that Sir Saraswati is going to be the centre around whom the plot will progress in The Tailor’s Needle by Lakshmi Raj Sharma. Other important characters are Maneka, Sita and Gauri (who appears later in the novel). Major plot concerns with Sir Saraswati’s conundrum about his children’s education, life and decisions. Though he is educated in England, he is still very much in love with his culture, high standards in society and his identity as a Brahmin. However, he thinks that his children should get British (English) education and they should discern among others in society. A sense of entitlement, a sense of class distinction and a sense of being in the good books of the British can easily be guessed by the conducts of Sir Saraswati. Yogendra and Sita are mostly obedient and meek. They follow whatever their father says. However, Maneka is a character with a million rebellions in her mind. She often contradicts her father and this worries not only Sir Saraswati but also his wife, Savitri.
Along with the Ranabakshi family’s progress in time, many other events encircle their life. Maneka’s affair with an Englishman and her marriage with Mohan that fails after his death, break the Ranabakshi family into pieces and they move to Dehradun to find solace. In Dehradun, the progressive and the pleasant part of the novel is described in a lucid and engaging manner by the novelist.
The occasional satirical approach of the novelist is evident throughout the novel. Comic episodes are also there that keep the readers light and help them in getting along with the characters who have been perfectly pictured according to the time. The author has used a very simple but effective language and it helps the novel penetrate the various layers of minds of various kinds of readers. Gandhian whirlwind, as M. K. Naik has phrased it, can be seen in the novel on a few occasions which culminate with the change in heart of Maneka. At the end of the novel, there is an impactful speech delivered by Sir Saraswati that seems to be defining and it gives the readers a clear idea of how effective the Gandhian method of uniting entire India was. This novel, naturally, becomes an ideal subject for those serious readers who want to study Indianness in Indian English literature.
Though this novel may seem misfit in this time, which is natural, there is a lot in it that we can enjoy. The art of portraying the characters in their best possible way to become synonymous with their times is the strength that Lakshmi Raj Sharma clearly possesses. Other than powerful characters, the author’s talent to create multiple dimensions leading to one single conclusion is also very praiseworthy. Embedding a murder mystery in a serious novel like this is commendable and this aspect can keep the readers of young age engaged with the story. The readers who read it will have many things to think and many things to learn about pre-independence fiction. The Tailor’s Needle will also prove to be a landmark reading experience for the readers of contemporary fiction as it offers a versatile, distinct and serious novel which is very rare these days.
Readers can read this novel by getting a copy from Amazon India. Click the link below to get a copy and enjoy a day of meaningful perusal…
The Tailor's Needle by Lakshmi Raj Sharma
- Themes & Issues
- ELE Final Impression
The Tailor’s Needle by Lakshmi Raj Sharma is a very important novel which depicts India before independence in its true colours. Read this book review to know more about this book.