The Last Song Of Dusk written by Siddharth Dhanvant Sanghvi is a beautifully conjured novel, a moving tale of singular people and their extraordinary lives.
The novel begins in the early 1900s’ with Anuradha’s story. She is going from her hometown Udaipur to Mumbai to meet Vardhaman Gandharva, a potential marriage partner. Just when it seems that things may not work out, Vardhaman openly admits his love for her and they predictably get married. Their love blossoms splendidly like a lovely flower. However, later, an unforeseen tragedy strikes them both tearing them asunder and changing Vardhaman irrevocably. Anuradha goes back to Udaipur where she dabbles and masters over the music and the wondrous songs that are an integral part of her soul. In the course of this stay, she meets other extraordinary people like Nandini who is an unusual artist and an even unusual woman having her own tragic tale.
Will Anuradha and Vardhaman overcome the tragedy that ripped them apart? Will their love blossom fruitfully once again or will it be lost forever?
The Last Song of Dusk abounds with comparisons which increases the depth of the emotions, thoughts, situation etc. and helps in understanding it better. The novel is replete with romanticized descriptions. Sanghvi has a very flowery style of writing. He infuses great grandeur and oodles of opulence not only in the story’s setting but also in the copious descriptions. Everything in the novel is exquisite. There is great abundance whether it is the character’s emotions, the royal settings of Udaipur or British city of Bombay or just the physical beauty of a human. Everything is made out to be insanely beautiful and he uses exquisite words and expressions to convey that beauty to the reader. For eg, “pashmina of exquisite remembrances” (pg. 80). There are also instances of magic realism suffused in the story. Sanghvi has also made music an important part of the story. It is manifested literally in the many songs, symphonies and musical instruments that are described. There is also a certain kind of vibrant and even melancholic musicality in Sanghvi’s writing that overwhelms you.
There are certain sexist stereotypes that the books has-like Anuradha’a need for marriage, the tiffs between her and her mother-in-law etc. Granted that the book is set in the 1900s’ where woman were treated as inferior but if Anuradha can be bold enough to leave her husband’s house, Sanghvi should have been bold enough to write something more than the overemphasized importance of marriage in a woman’s life.
Leaving that one negative point aside, The Last Song Of Dusk is undoubtedly a marvelous debut that spins together a lavish, grand love story that is bound to charm any reader. It is not the usual tale of love and sorrow, of man and a woman being in love, being happy, having troubles and reconciling them. It is much more as it infuses a portrayal of different sides and aspects of that one ubiquitous emotion called love. The novel reflects and gradually reveals layers and layers of that emotion between Anuradha and Vardhaman and other characters too like their son-Shloka or Nandini’s idea of love and safety etc. The reader, if attentive enough, can easily pick on these ideas, learn that love can have two sides just like anything else and know that it can teach us all one lesson or two.
Its a poignant love story that depends on the stark emotions for its narration; its beauty, its invulnerability, its vulnerability, its magic, its pain and countless other things. It is painfully beautiful, musical and aptly touches the right chord in the reader’s heart.
The Last Song Of Dusk is one story that will be in the reader’s heart long after its been perused.