1857 Dust of Ages Vol 1: A Forgotten Tale by Vandana Shanker

59811-1857I received 1857 Dust of Ages Vol 1: A Forgotten Tale by Vandana Shanker as a review copy from the Book Club as a part of the review programme.

The blurb:

  1. The rebellion erupts in India. Despite its attempts to stay aloof, NAVGARH, a small town near Delhi, is drawn into the conflagration. And at its heart are Princess Meera and Captain Richard Smith, with their strange alliance made for the throne of Navgarh.

2016, Shiv Sahai, a young Indian art historian and Ruth Aiken, a British scholar discover an excerpt from the journal of an anonymous British soldier, searching for his wife in the chaos of 1857 Delhi. As they begin investigating the scandal, they become aware of the vague rumours that are told in the bylanes of Navgarh – about a princess who married a British soldier to save her kingdom.

The story:

32 year old Shiv Sahai, is doing a project in history at the University of Delhi. His grandmother lives in Navgarh, a small township seventeen miles southwest of Delhi, in the old ancestral house, and his parents live in Singapore, having moved there when he was six years old. After working on his project during the week in Delhi, he goes to Navgarh on the weekends because for him the ancient mansion was a store house of his precious boyhood memories, his make believe games.

On one such weekend, he discovers an excerpt from the journal of an anonymous British soldier, and shows it to Dr Raghavan, his senior in the art department of the University of Delhi, who dismisses it. When he broaches it with his grandmother, she says there was a rumour of one of the daughters of the king eloping with an Englishman. Shiv decides to explore on his own and get to the bottom of it.

What does he unearth: Back in the 1850s, Meera, the daughter of Raja Bhanu Pratap had been trained to be the king as she was the only child. Or she could be a regent for Raja Bhanu Pratap’s nephew, Jai. There were other players to the throne of Navgarh as who ruled Navgarh, controlled the road to Delhi. Meera used to hold her own ‘court’ at the marketplace and was also friends with some girls of the cantonment. In comes Captain Smith, and then starts a small story between them.

Shiv meets Ruth Aiken, an English historian and they discuss Meera and Captain Smith, and Shiv does not want Ruth to share the information with anyone till they find something concrete.

My take:

The story moves back and forth between 1857 and 2016 taking the reader along. So many times in the book, I felt that the scenes were moving in front of me. The language is simple and the story flows smoothly.  The characters are lifelike and can be visualized easily. The story has history and romance. There is suspense, and also the feeling of becoming independent.

I felt the book could have been a little longer though there is a part two of the book. Waiting for the sequel with baited breath.


I received a free copy of the book from The Book Club in return for my honest review. I have NOT received any monetary compensation for the same.


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