Book Title: On The Road To Tarascon
Author: Arnab Nandy
Total Number of Pages: 208
Publisher: Niyogi Books
Publication Date: 12 Dec 2017
Genre: Historical Fiction / Thriller
Magdeburg, Germany, 2011
A lover’s note among a senile woman’s possessions sets off a chain of events that could lead to the discovery of a Van Gogh masterpiece—one of the most important paintings to have been lost in World War II.
Kolkata, India, 2012
When travel writer Neil Bose falls for Eva Schicktanz, he does not know he is getting involved with much more than a dimpled girl in nerd glasses. Neil and Eva must stay ahead of unknown pursuers after a common goal and follow an unusual trail charted in 1945. But after so many years, does the trail even exist?
A quest spanning continents and seven decades, this edge-of-the-seat thriller keeps you hooked till the last page.
The plot of On The Road to Tarascon revolves around a missing Van Gogh painting that has been lost during the Word War II. The book covers Germany and Kolkata. It all starts when Eva meets her grandmother Claudia, and she hands over the letter which was from her ‘Lover’. The letter brings Eva to Kolkata. This letter could probably link back to the missing Van Gogh painting which according to rumours was burned down during the World War II. If the painting is still around and whether or not it is traceable is a mystery.
The book is set in two timelines, one, in present time and the other, during the breakout of the war. So, there’s a lot of switching between the past and the present in the book but the good thing is, it didn’t get confusing.
The author has done his set of research and I liked how he mixed the facts and figures and crafted a mystery plot with it. This was something new for me and I totally loved it. The chapters were short and it didn’t take me long to finish reading the book.
I liked the portrayal of the characters. They were from different backgrounds and different countries all together but the plot puts them together in the same place and I could see the differences in them yet they were united in a sense.
I liked the setting or say, the backdrop of the plotline. It’s a concoction of medieval times and the present day. I also liked the writing style of the author. The theme was something new and totally different from the conventional clichéd plotlines which are so popular these days. I liked the fact that the storyline wasn’t the same beaten up girl meets boy story or a typical thriller book.
I really appreciate the author for keeping the Van Gogh painting as the central point however, I felt the importance of the painting was overshadowed by the sub-plots. For this, the gravity of the situation wasn’t highlighted as much as it should have been. At some points, the narration was a bit weak. And by weak I mean, it wasn’t polished, it felt superficial. I would have preferred if the book was only centred on finding the missing Van Gogh painting rather than creating a love story on the side because to me, I didn’t see any off-the-page chemistry between the characters nor did they add any valuable information for me.
MY FINAL VERDICT
I have a thing for historical fiction but this book was a mix of the historic and modern day Kolkata which made the book more interesting. It was nice to read about the places which I am familiar with. ‘On The Road To Tarascon’ would be good choice if you’re into historical fiction otherwise, you might find the book to be a tad bit boring. You should be interested in knowing about the painting and what actually happened to it.
POESY IN CHRYSALIS RATING : ⭐⭐⭐ / ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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