Vikram Seth’s Two Lives
My review of Vikram Seth’s Two Lives appears in Sunday’s Boston Globe. Part memoir, part biography, the book tells the story of Seth’s uncle Shanti, a World War II veteran who settled in London, and Shanti’s German wife, Henny. Here is an excerpt:
Although Seth did an enormous amount of research for this book, the reader never gets very close to the inscrutable Henny. Seth’s only sources for drawing this intriguing, mysterious woman are his and his uncle’s memories of her, as well as her correspondence. But Henny’s letters are, by her friends’ own admission, rather distant, leaving Seth to speculate on her frame of mind, on her feelings for the German fiancé who abandoned her and for the man whom she married. Because Seth never interviewed her during her lifetime (one gets the sense she would have been too private to want to speak about such things) the resulting portrait doesn’t quite satisfy.