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Two Lives

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A heartrending new book — the story of a marriageand the story of two lives — from the author of theinternational bestselling novel A Suitable Boy

Shanti Behari Seth was born on the eighth day of the eighth month in the eighth year of the twentieth century; he died two years before its close. He was brought up in India in the apparently vigorous but dying Raj and was sent by his family in the 1930s to Berlin — though he could not speak a word of German — to study medicine and dentistry. It was here, before he migrated to Britain, that Shanti's path first crossed that of his future wife.

Helga Gerda Caro, known to everyone as "Henny" was also born in 1908, in Berlin, to a Jewish family — cultured, patriotic, and intensely German. When the family decided to take Shanti as a lodger, Henny's first reaction was, "Don't take the black man!" But a friendship flowered, and when Henny fled Hitler's Germany for England just one month before war broke out, she was met at Victoria Station by the only person in the country she knew: Shanti.

Vikram Seth has woven together their astonishing story, which recounts the arrival into this childless couple's lives of their great-nephew from India — the teenage student Vikram Seth. The result is an extraordinary tapestry of India, the Third Reich and the Second World War, Auschwitz and the Holocaust, Israel and Palestine, postwar Germany and 1970s Britain.

Two Lives is both a history of a violent century seen through the eyes of two survivors and an intimate portrait of their friendship, marriage, and abiding yet complex love. Part biography, part memoir, part meditation on our times, this is the true tale of two remarkable lives — a masterful telling from one of our greatest living writers.

Review:

"In 1969, Seth, 17, came from Calcutta to London to continue his education and to stay with his Shanti Uncle and Aunty Henny. Their relationship became warm, and it is their stories (as well as his own) that Seth (A Suitable Boy) tells in this wide-ranging, unpredictable and moving account. Shanti was Seth's grandfather's brother, a dentist who studied in Berlin, lodging with Frau Caro, whose daughter, Henny, was in love with someone else. He left for Britain in 1936 because he couldn't practice in Germany, but in 1940, as war broke out, he enlisted, served throughout and lost his right arm in combat, a calamity for a dentist. Meanwhile, Henny, a German Jew, arrived in Britain weeks before war was declared, leaving her beloved mother and sister behind to death camp murder. 'Vicky' interviewed his great-uncle at length, and part two of his narrative focuses on Shanti. Part three, Henny's story, even more unusual, is based on a trove of remarkable letters she received and wrote (she often kept carbons), many to friends in Germany during the war. Part four examines their marriage (they didn't marry until seven years after the war), and part five details a family mystery about Shanti's will and Seth's complex but beautifully lucid summation of his research into these lives. This lovely book, 'memoir as well as biography,' examines great and fearful events seen through extraordinary lives. In clear and elegant writing, Seth explores the macrocosm through the microcosm, resulting in a most unusual, worthwhile book. 3 8-page b&w photo inserts. Agent, Irene Skolnick. (On sale Nov. 1)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

A captivating new book--the story of a century and of a love affair across a racial divide--from the author of A SUITABLE BOY. Shanti Behari Seth was born on the eighth day of the eighth month in the eighth year of the twentieth century; he died two years before its close. He was brought up in India in the apparently vigorous but dying Raj, and was sent by his family in the 1930's to Berlin-though he could not speak a word of German-to study medicine and dentistry. It was here, before he migrated to Britain, that Shanti's path first crossed that of his future wife. Helga Gerda Caro, known to everyone as Henny, was also born in 1908, in Berlin, to a Jewish family, cultured, patriotic and intensely German. When the family decided to take Shanti as a lodger, Henny's first reaction was, ?Don?t take the black man!? But a friendship flowered, and when Henny fled Hitler's Germany for England just one month before war broke out, she was met at Victoria Station by the only person in the count

About the Author

Vikram Seth has written acclaimed books in several genres: verse novel, The Golden Gate; travel book, From Heaven Lake; animal fables, Beastly Tales; epic fiction, A Suitable Boy. His most recent novel, An Equal Music, was published in 1999. He lives in England and India.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780060599669
Author:
Seth, Vikram
Publisher:
Harper
Author:
Vikram, Seth
Subject:
General
Subject:
Authors, English
Subject:
Travelers
Subject:
Interracial marriage
Subject:
General Biography
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
20051025
Binding:
Hardback
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
512
Dimensions:
9.24x6.60x1.57 in. 1.95 lbs.

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Related Subjects

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Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Two Lives Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$2.95 In Stock
Product details 512 pages HarperCollins Publishers - English 9780060599669 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In 1969, Seth, 17, came from Calcutta to London to continue his education and to stay with his Shanti Uncle and Aunty Henny. Their relationship became warm, and it is their stories (as well as his own) that Seth (A Suitable Boy) tells in this wide-ranging, unpredictable and moving account. Shanti was Seth's grandfather's brother, a dentist who studied in Berlin, lodging with Frau Caro, whose daughter, Henny, was in love with someone else. He left for Britain in 1936 because he couldn't practice in Germany, but in 1940, as war broke out, he enlisted, served throughout and lost his right arm in combat, a calamity for a dentist. Meanwhile, Henny, a German Jew, arrived in Britain weeks before war was declared, leaving her beloved mother and sister behind to death camp murder. 'Vicky' interviewed his great-uncle at length, and part two of his narrative focuses on Shanti. Part three, Henny's story, even more unusual, is based on a trove of remarkable letters she received and wrote (she often kept carbons), many to friends in Germany during the war. Part four examines their marriage (they didn't marry until seven years after the war), and part five details a family mystery about Shanti's will and Seth's complex but beautifully lucid summation of his research into these lives. This lovely book, 'memoir as well as biography,' examines great and fearful events seen through extraordinary lives. In clear and elegant writing, Seth explores the macrocosm through the microcosm, resulting in a most unusual, worthwhile book. 3 8-page b&w photo inserts. Agent, Irene Skolnick. (On sale Nov. 1)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , A captivating new book--the story of a century and of a love affair across a racial divide--from the author of A SUITABLE BOY. Shanti Behari Seth was born on the eighth day of the eighth month in the eighth year of the twentieth century; he died two years before its close. He was brought up in India in the apparently vigorous but dying Raj, and was sent by his family in the 1930's to Berlin-though he could not speak a word of German-to study medicine and dentistry. It was here, before he migrated to Britain, that Shanti's path first crossed that of his future wife. Helga Gerda Caro, known to everyone as Henny, was also born in 1908, in Berlin, to a Jewish family, cultured, patriotic and intensely German. When the family decided to take Shanti as a lodger, Henny's first reaction was, ?Don?t take the black man!? But a friendship flowered, and when Henny fled Hitler's Germany for England just one month before war broke out, she was met at Victoria Station by the only person in the count
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