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Beatrice And Virgil

By Sukanya Venkatraman

To tell you what the book is really about, would be spoiling the whole thing. To tell you that it is about the two characters Beatrice and Virgil, well, that would be an insult to your intellect and mine. But then again, Beatrice and Virgil are the protagonists over here. The only difference is that there isn’t just one Beatrice and one Virgil but there are, or rather were, hundreds of them. The theme is something all of us are familiar with, something all of us unitedly condem but it is shown in such light which describes the exact agony, that it sends shivers down your spine, almost literally.
The plot doesn’t unravel until the end but when it does, you realise that the author has been telling you what’s going on right from the beginning. If you have read Yann Martel’s first book, Life of Pi, you would’ve realise that he does get very descriptive, sometimes annoyingly so. But you would also have realised the importance of the description, of creating a scene in the reader’s mind, which is this – The connections are always left to the reader to make. The story is not blatantly put out. There aren’t surprises that spring up in regular intervals to keep the reader engaged. There are philosophical quotes, a touch of wisdom and a truth about humanity to keep you going and there is ofcourse, curiosity. However, in the end, when things begin to fall into place, you will realise the ingenuity of his writing and story-telling skills. And you would then go back, flip through the pages, and re-emphasize on the connections, delving as deep into them as you would want to. So, in a way, you write the story for yourself and hence need every little detail that he gives you.
The story is deep, in so many different levels. It makes you think. But at one point, the only thing that keeps you going is curiosity of what might happen next. It seems like anectodes and metaphors which are food for thought, but why would you read a book of fiction for that anyway? But once you finish the book, you realise that it’s worth it. The story unfolds in a rather beautiful way and and makes us bow down in shame because of how we pretend to understand, when we actually don’t and haven’t. It makes us realise the depth, and the brutality, that was.
A must read, most definitely.


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