…the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places said Roald Dahl. In our case, the secret is one that is kept hidden by generations – one after the other for over a hundred years– and always close to where they are physically present.
False Ceiling takes us through the life of Shakuntala who is born as a pampered child of a wealthy builder, however the opening scenes belong to Aaryan who kicks off this story that takes us through the maze of generations and cross connections.
The reader travels with the story through the Delhi of yesterday, the beautiful Dalhousie creating a wave of nostalgia for those among us who have been acquainted with the place and a longing and near visual experience for those of us who are yet to step foot in those places of our country.
There are many chapters, each of which can stand on its own feet and worthy to be called a short story, but the brilliance of the writer Amit Sharma comes through in the complex connections he weaves between the half a dozen characters. Every chapter mentions something about the secret, piquing the reader’s interest and ultimately we cannot wait to find out what that little peice of poison is that has destroyed so many lives. But to be honest, when the secret was ultimately spilled I was not thrilled.
The characters are very well developed, they are neither white nor black, but real breathing humans just like you and me. They are complete with all their flaws and shortcomings and that is what makes the characters so believable. It is quite obvious that there has been indepth study of people and places undertaken to narrate this family saga. The writing as well as the language employed is good and it is notable that this is Amit Sharma’s debut novel. I believe he has a long way to go.