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Two Lives

By Vikram Seth

Two Lives
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  • Hardcover: Nov 2005,
    512 pages.
    Paperback: Jun 2006,
    544 pages.

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Cloggie Downunder (05/22/13)

Well worth reading
Two Lives is a memoir written by international best-selling author, Vikram Seth. In this interesting and engaging book, Seth writes about his great uncle Shanti Behari Seth (Shanti Uncle), born in Biswan, and his German Jewish great aunt, Hennerle Caro (Aunty Henny), born in Berlin, describing them as two exiles who found their home in each other. Using interviews with his uncle as well as letters, photographs and official documents, Seth builds up a comprehensive image of the lives of two people he held dear. But as with his travelogue, From Heaven Lake, this also contains commentary on world affairs and much of the author’s own life: Seth states “I felt that a picture of these individual lives would be complemented by glimpses of their century, even if these glimpses were mediated by the opinion, perhaps opinionatedness, of the author. Indeed, the lens has also turned around upon its wielder, for this book is memoir as well as biography.” As such, while a fascinating examination of two very interesting lives, it also gives much insight into the inspiration for and circumstances surrounding the writing of his various works. It is certainly intriguing to see how his interests and life events are linked to his novels. The depiction of World War Two, the Holocaust and other events of the Twentieth Century from two unique perspectives is also quite interesting. And of course, Seth once again exercises his poetic brain cells for the charming dedication. This book has aptly been described as an engaging and moving narrative. Well worth reading.
Begum (04/18/07)

Two lives, one writer
Vikram Seth is genius in writing and making us face the bitter facts of life as well as pleasant ones. As he writes the two lives of his uncle and aunt, he also makes us realize and feel the real important things of life: true friendship, love, dedication and many more. Thank you Mr. Seth.
Kate (04/01/07)

A well-researched memoir/biography
Though not exactly a page-turner for me, I became gradually absorbed by the book the more I read because of my appreciation of Vikram Seth's thorough research into the background and lives of his aunt and uncle. He spares no details and the richness of the word pictures he paints of his characters will stay with me for a long time.
I also grew to trust his perspectives and commentary on the historical happenings of the time he was writing (just before, during and after the Second World War in Germany, England and India). It is a multi-faceted perspective and I think he did an incredible job of bringing so many cultures into play through his personal interviews and letters written to and by his aunt and uncle. The sensitivity with which he writes of both the strengths and foibles of two unusual human beings was also admirable and helpful to me in my own writing.
Junaid Mir (12/19/06)

Vikram Seth's Style
Austere, that is the word that I feel aptly describes Seth's style. All the quality authors I have read nobody comes anywhere near to him in the simplicity levels of his writing.
Anybody who relates reading to an experience of sipping a glass of cold milk should opt for Seth.

I gave 3 to Two Lives.But ratings are relative and my reading experience is like seated along the bank of a stream with your feet in the stream.The water too cold and you need to take them out every few minutes and then dip them again.
So Two Lives not my kind.
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