After the hit launch of “Rogues among the Ruins,” the renowned writer Achala Moulik came up with her new creation, Phantom Lovers, which comprises two lyrical novellas: With Fate Conspire and Wait! On Tuesday.
Phantom Lovers comprises two lyrical novellas: With Fate Conspire and Wait! Inspired by her personal life and that of her forebear. It is set in the British era, covering a broad time period from the late 18th century to the late 19th century.
With Fate, Conspire narrates how, despite the antagonism between the imperial British and the subjugated Indians, a young British magistrate is entranced by a zamindar’s daughter in Bengal. On a stormy night, they elope to their planned paradise—until the Mutiny of 1857 intrudes on their lives. A century later, in London, their predicament is mysteriously reflected in the turbulent fate of another Englishman and an Indian girl.
The second story, Wait!, is about two lovers in Rome—an Afghan academic and an Indian woman—who plan an idyllic life together.
Then the violent coup of April 1978 in Afghanistan forever changed their destinies and those of that nation.Caught in these tempests, the separated lovers in both stories defy danger and despair as they travel across strange frontiers of time and space to find their lost beloveds.
With haunting beauty, the award-winning author describes the destinies of the lovers against the dramatic background of the British Raj in Bengal as well as the conflicts of our times across Kabul, Rome, and London.
Talking about why the book is unique in its own way, CA Raghavan, former High Commissioner to Pakistan and Singapore, said, there are two love stories, but seeing them as just a love story would be a mistake because it covers a broad time period. We see British colonialism, imperialism, and British orientalist interest in India, as well as the sparkle of the Bengal Renaissance. Though the core of the story is a beautiful love story, what was more fascinating was the larger tapestry that has been woven around the story, which is the broad geo-political context of the story.
Responding to the fact that why one should read the book, Dr. Nirmal Bhattacharya, editorial director of Niyogi Books, said there are four big reasons. The first is that there is a wealth of information about history and geopolitics. The second reason is the message that love prevails, the third is the correct description of time, and the fourth and last is the creative writing of the author.
Ms. Joyeeta Basu, journalist and editor of The Sunday Guardian, first talked about the writer, saying that “she is a keen observer of history and not dry history, but she pours her soul into her writing, which elevates history to the status of literature.”Then, Ms. Basu moved on to talk about a book about how history unfolded before your eyes, covering the Bengal Renaissance, the Sepoy Mutiny, and the unrest in Afghanistan. Though it’s a love story, there is nothing mundane about it, as the conversion between the protagonists is very intellectually rich.