Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Believe - Varun Gwalani

Date of Reading: 01/06/2014
Author: Varun Gwalani
Publisher: Frog Books
Place: Mumbai
Year: 2013
From: Goodreads Giveaways

          I remember a story that I heard in my childhood: "a kind hearted man was taking his usual morning walk. Out on the streets he finds a boy starving to death, neglected by the passers by. The man takes the boy home, feeds and clothes him and when the sign of a faint smile appears on his face, the man turns to God and asks, 'why can't you do anything to alleviate the suffering of men?'. God replied,'I have done what I can. I created you'.
          The story mirrors the answer which I got from my father when I asked, 'If God is all powerful, why didn't he prevent World War II (or more personally I wanted to ask how can he let my money purse being stolen)?' Papa has his usual reply ready, 'no need to blame God for what man has done'. Hmmph, a lot to digest.

          Varun's fictional narrative validates the theory; we need to do what we can to save our pathetic lives, help will come for those who seek. Conner White and Victoria proves so.
          Though I was feeling some similarities with some other stories, reading proved quite fruitful in spite of the predictable narrative pattern. Fast paced, it will glue you to the spot for one day (or till you finishes it off). One thought troubles me though, concerning the characterisation of Victoria. Why is she a rape attempt victim, rather than a rape victim? Are our authors (or readers) still reluctant to accept a non-virgin as a heroine even though speeches abound stressing the fact that purity lies in the mind, not in the body???
        Conner White is a popular pessimistic writer; when his wife dies suddenly out of heart attack, he goes to recluse and is horrified to find his readers opinion of him -- he is even termed as a murderer as one university student commits suicide on reading those evil books. Even he is not accepted to his only daughter who hides her last name in shame.
          Determined to redeem himself, he goes to the nearby town of Levion, where an age old religion reigns supreme and isolates the place from others. They are under the curse of a disease called Levitis which attacks suddenly irrespective of age and offers no possible cure.
Conner befriends Victoria who becomes his guide in the strange place. Two seduction attempts which she has undergone in puberty has made her an alien among her own people; with the help of Connor she regains her normality. A scrambled study on the history of the town reveals to him that Levitis is caused by the designs of of the high priest (Father Godfrey) and the town physician, Dr. Clark.
Varun Gwalani
         Thwarting their attempt to kill him via poison, Connor along with Victoria, Mrs. Stewart the inn keeper and Rosaline the mayor's wife hatches a plan to open the eyes of the town. The priest and the physician ends up dead, their place of worship, Sinome, burns down and a new age begins for Levion. Roger, the University student, is also proved to be killed due the influence of the priest and the doctor. Connor disappears among the ashes, but Victoria gets a copy of his new book containing a metaphorical story of his life in Levion, informing her that he is still alive.
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