Book Review: ‘Love, Exile, Redemption’ by Siddharth Kak and Lila Kak Bhan

It's an unknown story, but it must be read!

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Book Title: Love, Exile, Redemption: The Saga of Kashmir’s Last Pandit Prime Minister and His English Wife
Author(s): Siddharth Kak and Lila Kak Bhan
Publisher: Rupa Publications India
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN: 978-9357024921
Date Published: Aug. 05, 2023
Price: INR 540

Love, Exile, Redemption by Siddharth Kak and Lila Kak Bhan Book Cover

Book Review

Love, Exile, Redemption: The Saga of Kashmir’s Last Pandit Prime Minister and His English Wife” is a 2023 book by Siddharth Kak and Lila Kak Bhan and published by Rupa. It tells the story of Ram Chandra Kak, the last Kashmiri Pandit prime minister of Jammu and Kashmir, and his English wife, Margaret Kak.

The book has 25+1 chapters that can be categorized virtually into three parts: “Love”, “Exile”, and “Redemption”. The first part tells the story of Ram Chandra Kak’s early life and marriage to Margaret. The second part recounts their time in Kashmir, during which they were caught up in the political turmoil leading up to the partition of India and Pakistan. The third part tells the story of their exile from Kashmir and eventual return.

Several materials are used to curate the book, including letters, journal entries, and unpublished memoirs. It is a thorough and educational overview of a difficult time in Kashmir’s history. The novel also tells a heartbreaking tale of love and sorrow. Ram Chandra and Margaret Kak were a loving couple who overcame numerous obstacles as a team. Their story serves as a monument to the strength of human spirit and love.

I liked that the book was well-researched and informative. The authors did a great job of presenting a balanced and nuanced account of a complex historical period. I also liked that the book was well-written and engaging. The authors told the story clearly and concisely, and they brought the characters to life. Additionally, I wanted the book to be a moving story of love and loss. The authors did a great job capturing the emotional impact of the described events.

The never-before-seen pictures on the middle page provide a foggy nostalgia to the book’s story. The addition of various drawings in the book by Kashmira Tembulkar greatly enhances the writers’ story. When and if the descriptions fail, the readers will be lucky to have their attention irresistibly drawn to one of this great artist’s exquisite paintings. Anjum Siddique’s lone pencil representation of “Damin-i-Kosar,” the ideal home of the Kak’s at Dara on the outskirts of Srinagar in Kashmir, is also noteworthy. The Prime Minister and his English wife’s love, personal struggles, and trials are captivating and empathetic, capturing the reader’s thoughts with their unwavering love and triumph.

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Both writers demonstrate their knowledge of English prosody, grammar, and vocabulary by writing in simple language that is easy to comprehend. However, I thought the early portion of the book was a little sluggish. The authors spent significant time creating the scene and introducing the characters. In certain instances, I felt the book might have been more descriptive. For example, I would have loved to study more about the political events that led to India and Pakistan’s division.

Overall, “Love, Exile, Redemption” is a good book. It is a valuable contribution to the literature on Kashmir’s history and culture. I recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about this fascinating region.

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