The Caretaker: Book Review

Saturday, November 30, 2013
Here's my sixth book in The First Read Author's Pledge : The Caretaker by A.X.Ahmad

Title : The Caretaker
Author : A.X. Ahmad
Genre: Fiction
Price [INR] : Rs 399 Buy THE CARETAKER from Flipkart.com for Rs 219.(or Hardcover here)
Number of Pages : 294
Publisher : Minotaur
ISBN : 978-125001684-3

The Blurb:
Ranjit Singh, a former Indian Army Captain trying to escape a shameful past and working as a caretaker on Martha's Vineyard, moves his family into an empty Senator's home.  But one night, their idyll is shattered when mysterious armed men break into the house.  Forced to flee, Ranjit is pursued and hunted by unknown forces and becomes drawn into the Senator's shadowy world.  As the past and present collide, Ranjit must finally confront the hidden event that destroyed his Army career and forced him to leave India before it costs him his family as well.

The Story:
Ranjit Singh, an ex-Indian army officer, commanded an elite army squad at the Siachen glaciers during his time as a Captain. But that was years ago, before his Army career ended in dishonor, shattering his reputation. Due to the circumstances, he had to leave his homeland to end up living as a caretaker on the exclusive resort island of Martha’s Vineyard, looking after the vacation homes of the rich and powerful. One harsh winter, faced with no other choice, he secretly moves his family into the house of one of his clients, an African-American Senator. Here, his wife and daughter are happy, and he feels safe for the first time in ages. But Ranjit’s idyll is shattered when mysterious men break into the house and thus begins his chase to freedom for him and his family. His only ally is Anna, the Senator’s beautiful wife, who has secrets of her own. As his chase stirs up long forgotten events, the caretaker must finally face the one careless decision that ruined his life- and forced him to leave India. 

About the Author:
A. X. AHMAD was raised in India, educated at Vassar College and M.I.T., and has worked as an international architect. As Amin Ahmad, his short stories and essays on immigrant life have been published in The Missouri Review, The Harvard Review, The New England Review, Narrative Magazine and The Good Men Project. He was a finalist for Glimmertrain's Short Story Award, and has been listed in Best American Essays. He lives in Washington, D.C, where he teaches writing.

My Review:
The strongest point of the novel is the protagonist - Ranjit Singh. As Goodreads correctly describes, The Caretaker introduces a new hero for our times: an immigrant caught between two worlds and a man caught between two loves. The character Ahmad has described is a strong man who loves on his principles - got court-martialed but still he chose to support his friends and stand-by the truth. But as the story progresses, we see different sides of him and yet it is very easy to relate to him in each of his decisions and circumstances. Also, Ahmad has quite aptly described an illegal-immigrant family - their circumstances, their choices and the little things that make them happy. He has beautifully portrayed the life of an immigrant in another country. He captured the feeling of being an outsider, of missing one's home country, of being evaluated and labeled that many foreign nationals feel when they emigrate.

I must say this is a very-well written, page turning book and I enjoyed reading it thoroughly. With some twists coming through out and the plot moves along so quickly I found it was hard to put the book down. The beginning chapters made me glued to it that I didn't even want to skip a word  and with quotes from Gurbani added to the happy moments. Being a Bengali Muslim, he has formulated the character of a Sikh quite remarkably - with a lot of work being put in!

It is a suspense thriller but I would say its still a sad story - the protagonist has to face the toughest of circumstances all his life and never did he get happiness he deserved. The author could have given him tits and bits of happiness - maybe a little. Also, I couldn't connect with the two leading ladies - his wife and his love. His wife cribs a lot and doesn't trust me - EVER! If she was so unhappy, why did she ever come with him. She could have stayed with her family in India or at least her uncle in Boston. Also, she was too greedy for a girl from a very humble background. The other lady, Anna, seemed too confused as well - in terms of her personal life. Also, I found it bit dragging in the end with some prolonged scenes in the last few chapters, especially, those intimate moments between Ranjit and Anna, and wanting for more Tea - that too when his family is suffering in deportation - an honorable family man doesn't do that! Does he? He may have stopped loving his wife, but a father can do that when his daughter is in deportation doesn't seem realistic. 

To be honest, for me the book ended abruptly with no definite end to Ranjit Singh. Maybe it's a recipe for sequel. Let's wait and watch if a sequel comes! 

With all its ups and downs, for a debut novel, it seemed pretty good to me. It could have been better, but it isn't bad. I wouldn't recommend it as a must read, but if you pick it up, it wouldn't disappoint you. 

My rating: 3.25 out of 5 stars. 

 This book was sent to me by IndibloggerGet Published-Book Reviews.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    I stumbled across your blog and really enjoyed your posts. I am an author (2 novels published) in search of identity and would feel privileged to get reviewed by you.
    I will be happy to send a copy to you (soft copy or hard copy. Whichever you feel convenient enough). Let me know if you are interested.
    I’d love to hear back from you. You may contact me at ravirenus@gmail.com

    Best Regards,
    Ravi Kumar R
    http://ravirenus.blogspot.in/

    ReplyDelete

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