Sunday, 2 March 2014

Daniel's Diary by Rajeshwari Chauhan: a review

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference...” The lines of my favourite poem by Robert Frost welcomed me to the mystery of a book named Daniel’s Diary and what I experienced was goosebumps all over my body as the pages unfolds itself....

According to the back cover- When Mrinalini, an art restoration expert, ventures into the ruins of Rang Mahal and the Palace of Sumangarh, an accidental discovery of a skeleton and a manuscript detailing the exploits of Daniel, a Portuguese artist, opens a window to the forgotten era of grace and grandeur. The blossoming of love between a Moghul Emperor and a Rajput princess, is seen through the eyes of a foreign traveller, who himself falls in love with the Rajput Princess. The plot revolves around Daniel’s quest for beauty and passion, the ecstasy and agony of love. He meets the famous courtesan Mahamaya only to lose her. It also draws a modern day parallel in the life of Mrinalini, a woman who seeks refuge in artistic pursuits and architectural ruins when relationships in life confuse her. Will she be able to decode the clues left behind by Daniel? Will the curse of centuries-old unfulfilled love break into a happy ending for Mrinalini?

Just as I held the book in my hands, I fell in love with it. Not exaggerating but the cover page, the paper quality, the font, the way everything is placed in the book, my first expression was “Wow!” Personally, this genre is a very new genre for me. I haven’t read much of this genre but with this book, I earn to read more and more not only of this genre but also from the author, Rajeshwari Chauhan. Written in a very exquisite way, every page of Daniel’s Diary is like turning the pages of history. The author has very well described the history, the present and mixed both of them in such a way that the reader feels a part of this journey from the very first line till the very last line.

The characters have been etched in such a way that the reader feels connected to them and the situations at every point of time. As the diary unfolds itself and the puzzle pieces settle in and you feel that it’s over, there’s another secret waiting for you to reveal itself! Majestic is the only word I can find suitable for the book. Not many writers have the power of combining the history and the present in such a wonderful way. Rajeshwari, being a debut author did her best and it couldn’t have been better.

The reign of the Moghul Empire is the best part of the book. We all have had lessons in our childhood about the history of Akbar’s reign or the Moghul Empire to be precise, but no history book could’ve given such a wonderful insight to the period. I would like to term the writing style simple yet royal. The book has been beautified with couplets here and there and that being the best part of the book.

With every turning of the page you wish to know what is going to happen next and as a result, you keep on turning pages and reading it having a loss of the time you have been reading this. While the protagonists unravel the mystery of the clues left behind by Daniel, you find yourself sitting and trying to unravel the mystery with them and that, according to me is a writer’s achievement.

Yes, the book is over and it ended in a very predictable way and that’s the only part of the book which I do not like. I also feel the author could’ve made the present day story of Mrinalini more interesting. The History was an eye-catching feature but the present, compared to the history, seemed a bit dull... While I rate this book 4 out of 5, I would give Daniel’s Diary an opportunity to say- “Veni...Vidi...Vici... I came... I saw.... I conquered....”

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