The Red Letters by Ved Mehta
My Father's Enchanted Period (Nation Books)

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Synopsis

The story has its origins in the sixties, when Mehta by chance finds his father weeping uncontrollably on his mother’s shoulder during a New York dinner party. As a result, the son begins to unravel a family mystery that takes him on a painful and revealing voyage into his father’s British past in Simla, the magical hill station. Step-by-step, he is forced to confront his father’s passionate clandestine affair with Rasil, an exquisite beauty who in her teens was abducted from her poor family and raped. She was subsequently rescued by a Hindu philanthropist, only to end up trapped in an abusive marriage to a rich businessman. Mehta’s exploration of his father’s love affair proves painful, as the son realizes that the entanglement, a passing episode in sixty-one years of a loving marriage, had shattering psychological side effects on his mother—a close friend of Rasil’s—and also on his own life. The Red Letters is Mehta’s masterpiece, a work of extraordinary intensity that perfectly re-creates the exotic, closed world of British India.
 

About Ved Mehta

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Ved Mehta, a native of Lahore, India, has been blind since childhood. He received his B.A. from Balliol College, Oxford and his M.A. from Harvard University in 1961. He has been on staff at the New Yorker magazine since 1961 and has written numerous articles on life in 20th-century India. A prolific author of more than 20 books and essay collections, Mehta's works include "Face to Face," "Walking the Indian Streets" and "Remembering Mr. Shawn's New Yorker: The Invisible Art of Editing.
 
Published September 13, 2004 by Nation Books. 208 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel, Sports & Outdoors, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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And propriety will be sorely tested when his father suggests that Mehta help him with a novel he’s writing, the story of an idealistic young doctor working in the hill country who falls in love with a shepherd girl and rails against the abuse she suffers at the hands of the local Nawat: The tale’...

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The Guardian

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Much the same is true in Red Letter, which is less about Mehta Senior's affair than about how Mehta Junior learnt of and wrote about it.

Jan 23 2005 | Read Full Review of The Red Letters: My Father's ...

BC Books

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About a fourth of the way into this graceful memoir, and just before he starts to unfold the tale-within-a-tale concerning the eponymous 'red letters', author-narrator Ved Mehta admits to a moment of agonizing self-doubt: In writing a series of books about myself and my family, among other things...

Sep 20 2005 | Read Full Review of The Red Letters: My Father's ...

London Review of Books

Even completed works of this scope carry a suggestion of fragility within their sturdy achievement, and Mehta tells us that although he had been thinking of the whole sequence for a long time, it was ‘mostly a private vision’: ‘I wasn’t sure that I would have the physical and emotional stamina – ...

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India Today

If writing is the panacea for loss, then Ved Mehta need not worry.

Nov 15 2004 | Read Full Review of The Red Letters: My Father's ...

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