At a length of 247 pages, On The Banks of Connolly Canal by PJ Thobias is a book that leaves readers with the feeling that it has ended too quickly. Unputdownable, seamlessly knit with rustic images and heart touching, the book is a refreshing take on village life. While Korattur may be any village like other villages of rural India, but, this particular village seems special as the writer has romanticized and idealised the happenings of this village to bring forth the multi-faceted nature of life along the paddy fields of Korattur.
The book is like a take on the lives of different individuals who are all residents of Korattur. This makes the book like a collection of short tales that enhance deeper understanding of Korattur and provide a perspective on each of the mentioned characters that adds to the significance of the locale and the genuineness and relatability of the reader with the content of the text. There is no doubt that the light heartedness of the book cover should not be considered as the be all and the end all because the stories within are not so simple. Rather, they discuss serious incidents and events that are marked by a tone of maturity which only someone who has a lot of life experience, an eye for detail and good observational skills can radiate.
Apart from the content of the stories, it is the writing style that is the icing on the cake which serves to enhance the roundedness of these wholesome characters. They are not flat characters without any personality but are rather multi- faceted and have many sides to them that the reader will discover as the stories progress. This makes the book worthy of being devoured but at a moderate if not slow pace to gain full and proper understanding of the text. Both the male and the female characters have dimension if not too many sides to them and they are as much driven by their intellect and instinct as the fate that drives the course of the incidents that they end up facing. It is difficult to pinpoint any specific story but almost all the chapters bring with them a freshness that comes with a tinge of nostalgia for the rustic, the simple and the uncomplicated that the fast pace of a contemporary work life in the box apartments of the city fails to provide.
If the characters are the icing on the cake, then the writing style is the cherry on the icing. Subtly evocative and true to the essence of the plots, the book is bound to make readers smile and teary eyed at the same time. This is because of the finesse with which the shots of the village life and scenes are captured that is neither exaggerated nor down played. Rather, there is a connection that flows seamlessly and makes for an enjoyable read. The choice of vocabulary is apt. The words provide proper understanding of the issues at hand, bring out the themes of the plots, create excitement, suspense and add a plethora of emotions that makes for a rich reading experience. This makes the book not only interesting but also informative. The multiple climactic scenes create a beautiful, seamless and rich aura of the characters that emphasises on the beauty of rustic characters and the art of beautiful characterisation. On the whole, the book is highly entertaining and a must read for readers who enjoy reading tales set in an Indian setting, lovers of fictional tales from Indian writing in English and readers who are fans of RK Narayanan though the tales and the writing style or characters do not bear any uncanny resemblance to Narayanan, yet it is the rusticity of the setting and the whole heartedness of expressions that immediately evokes the simplicity of RK Narayanan. The book is well edited and has a professional touch to it too. There are no errors, improper vocabulary or lengthy and trailing passages that may bore or confuse the reader. Rather, the book shares a good balance between explanation and description which provides room to the reader for interpreting and analysing that makes the reader involved in the plots though a lack of simple pencil sketches or line drawings and illustrations would have added to the joys of the reading process.
Title of book: On The Banks of Connolly Canal
Name of Author: PJ Thobias
Publisher: Evincepub Publishing
Number of Pages: 247
Year of Publication: 2022
Reviewed by: Tasnima Yasmin