Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Monday, 19 September 2011

The Obscure Logic of the Heart - Priya Basil

Anil and Lina meet at University in London. He feels an immediate and strong attraction to her, and enlists his friends to help him meet her. His family lives in Kenya and is Sikh, and her family lives in Birmingham and are Muslim. He has enjoyed a life of having it all, wanting for nothing. His wealthy parents’ home in Kenya is referred to as a palace. Lina’s family home is much more modest. As their relationship develops, Anil introduces Lina to his world, to the art he admires, and she learns from him. He is unhappy whenever he is not with her and tries to drive the relationship forward. Lina feels she has to keep the relationship hidden from her parents, and becomes embroiled in lying to them in order to continue to see Anil. We follow Anil and Lina as life moves on for them after University, with Anil embarking on his career as an architect in Kenya, and Lina persuing her work with the UN in Sudan. At the heart of this epic novel is their relationship. What will happen, how strong is their love; can it overcome obstacles that appear insurmountable? Interspersed amongst the main narrative are some emotional letters from the 1960’s detailing the end of a relationship; we do not know who has written them, or to whom they are addressed, until much nearer the end of the novel.

I found this an enjoyable, intelligent and moving read. I found some of the other characters, such as Anil’s mother Minnie, were well drawn and easy to imagine in my mind’s eye. I would recommend this for anyone interested in reading about a somewhat unusual romance where differences in religion and ideals, pressures from parents and their beliefs, all conspire to create a weighty internal conflict. Dealing with religion, illegal arms dealing, aid work in refugee camps, this is a lengthy novel, and an epic in the amount of ground it covers. The author successfully integrates many aspects into the storyline, with the tumultuous love between Lina and Anil the one constant running throughout, but the novel is much more than just a love story. A talented writer, I will look out for her other work.

I read and reviewed this novel as part of the Transworld Book Group Reading Challenge. Thank you for the opportunity. 


  1. I "think" this is one of my challenge choices...and I also think I'm going to have to be in the right reading mood for it as "lengthy" and "epic" are not on the menu at the moment! ;-)

  2. Yep I liked it but I wasn't always in the mood for it at times, hence I've read other novels in between picking it up and putting it down. It covers a lot of ground, although it's not a very hard read. To me 500 pages plus is longish, even though more novels these days do seem to be pretty long. But a book that long takes me awhile. I'm looking forward with getting onto my next challenge book.

  3. I love your review and relish a long novel so unlike the other comment lengthy and epic make it even more appealing to me. It is also one of my Transworld Challenge choices.

  4. Thank you LindyLou that's very kind of you. I do hope you like it. I liked the amount of ground it covered, although long books do take me awhile to read. How are you enjoying the Challenge?


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