A cross-cultural romance set during the fury of British imperialism and the social-cultural divide in early twentieth-century turbulent
It’s the year 1911. King George the Fifth is due in
Raju, a college student, struggling to establish his identity in the charged atmosphere of
A passionate romance with Eileen, the daughter of a British officer, keeps Raju inspired in their roller-coaster ride against the backdrop of British imperialism, turbulent political conflicts, the fury of the freedom revolution, the catastrophic first World War and the racial, cultural and social divisions in the post-Edwardian era.
The book has moved on to the second round of 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest.
Tell us about your current release.
Wings of Freedom, released recently as a kindle book on Amazon, is a historical romance novel. It depicts a passionate cross-cultural romance defying the fury of intense political, cultural and social divide in turbulent
British India. The story is accentuated by the backdrop of coronation celebration of King George V amid speculation of sabotage, freedom revolution swirling furiously in the country and the ravages of World War I.
I’m taking the liberty to give an excerpt below from a review on Amazon that aptly sums up the features of this novel:
“Any readers of historical romance will really love this novel. Kaul has created a wonderful story dealing with amazing fictional characters during the British occupation of
in during the early 1900s. It's a story of forbidden love, society ideals, betrayal, and danger.” India
“Kaul is a fabulous writer, engrossing the reader in his story as the beautiful descriptions, the gripping action, and the sweeping romance all come together to create a wonderful novel that I couldn't put down. I am not usually a reader of historical novels, yet Kaul's historical fiction is fabulous and I would recommend it to anyone.”
Tell us about a favorite character from your book.
Eileen, the female protagonist in the novel, is my favorite. Looking at her, you’d think of her as a sweet, beautiful, bubbly woman on the threshold of adulthood. But inside, she is intensely emotional and sensitive, suffering the plight of a motherless child that is accentuated by her being trapped between the powerful currents of her British parentage and her love for
, where she was born and brought up. India
She is an effervescent child till she loses her mother at the age of ten. That transforms her and makes her a kind of recluse, craving for a shoulder on which she could rest her head, cry and shed her grief. Because of these inner conflicts she also gets recurrent, mysterious dreams of boating in the River Jumna flowing close to her house, with a call from some supernatural source. Her personality continues to remain suppressed till she meets Raju, the male protagonist and then their romance, maturing from a subtle to a passionate level with rendezvouses on boats and in old castles and monuments frees her from her shackles resulting in the culmination of her ‘predictive dreaming’ episodes. This also makes her a determined woman, ready to defy the political and social order in the colonial
It won’t be an exaggeration if I say that at times I became sentimental while writing her character.
Who is your favorite author?
The name of Mary Margaret Kaye comes at the top. In fact, I’ve been inspired by her novels, most prominent out of them being The Far Pavilions, which depicts the story of a passionate but dangerous cross cultural love between an Englishman and an Indian princess.
As you’d know The Far Pavilions, which was published in 1978, sold millions of copies and inspired a popular television adaptation as well as a musical play.
However, my novel, Wings of Freedom, has a vital distinction as it’s written from an Indian’s point of view, and reflects the aspirations of the Indian masses during the turbulent colonial period. Moreover, with the Indian authorship, it depicts appropriately the locales, language, dresses, social customs and flavor of the Indian society as it existed a hundred years ago.
Is there one passage in your book that you feel gets to the heart of your book and would encourage people to read it? If so, can you share it?
Here’s a passage that I intentionally put in the prologue to give the readers a feel of the setting, period of the novel, intense political and social conflicts during the colonial rule and the hint of a budding romance.
“His eyes flickered away to the rear of the lobby, which opened onto the beach. Restlessly, he got up and walked out the door toward the stone steps descending to the water’s edge. Stepping down, he gazed at the enormity of the
Arabian Sea and its turbulent waves, frothing as they lashed at the large stone boulders skirting the retaining wall.
The waves gradually coalesced in his mind to a collage of images: meetings with Eileen over the last five years, the love she had for
, her culture, her traditions, her language and him. India
Raj’s mind raced, reliving the intensity, the sublimity of their love, which transcended the barriers of race, religion and society in tumultuous times--when many countries were in the grip of British colonial rule and when
was struggling for her freedom. He gazed back to December of 1911 when he--then fondly called Raju--felt the caressing touch of the hand of a bubbly English girl of eighteen during the coronation celebrations of King George the Fifth near the Red Fort in India .” Delhi
Besides interweaving the fiction with threads of important historical events in India, the novel has the back drop of World War I, tracing the events prior to the great war-- the Balkan War and the assassination of Francis Ferdinand at Sarajevo-- Britain joining the war, the ravages of trench warfare in Belgium and other war theatres in severe winters, where inexperienced recruits from the colonies were deployed in forward positions.
The social and political conflicts prevailing in
in the pre–war period, particularly the women’s suffrage movement and the rise of trade unionism, too find a place in the novel. England
Where did you do research for this book?
The first draft stage took me to government archives, museums and libraries as also the cyberspace, browsing for archival documents, particularly the early twentieth century editions of New York Times, Illustrated London News and Reuters.
This was later supplemented by visits to the monuments, heritage sites, buildings and memorials constructed during colonial
as also actual locales in the novels to provide an authentic flavor of culture and traditions as they existed in early twentieth century. India
Do you have a Website or Blog?
Yes. I’d be glad if the readers visit these sites and post their comments.
Blog sites: http://ratankaul.blogspot.in
Ratan Kaul is an Indian author living in
. Though he had a long career in corporate management, he has been an ardent student of history, particularly relating to the British Indian period. He loves writing historical fiction as it gives him an opportunity to delve into the archived historical manuscripts and documents that provide an insight into what transpired back in time. New Delhi
The serendipitous moment for writing his historical romance novel "Wings of Freedom" came to him when he visited the memorial obelisk at the coronation park in Delhi commemorating the coronation celebrations of the British Emperor King George V in Delhi in 1911. After publishing this novel depicting the cross-cultural romance during
British India of early twentieth century, on Amazon, he is now writing a sequel to it.
Besides his interest in reading historical novels and writing fiction in that genre, he is working as a consultant and an arbitrator. He co-authored a book on Arbitration: Procedure and Practice, published by LexisNexis Butterworth Wadhwa in 2009. He has delivered lectures on arbitration and also contributed papers for seminars.
More information about him can be viewed on his website and he can be reached at email @ ratankaul.in
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