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Two Lives

Vikram Seth

7 Reviews

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Biography: general, Prose: non-fiction

* A story of love and survival amidst the great events of the twentieth century.

TWO LIVES tells the remarkable story of Seth's great uncle and aunt. His great uncle Shanti left India for medical school in Berlin in the 1930s and lodged with a German Jewish family. In the household was a daughter, Henny, who urged her mother 'not to take the blackie'. But a friendship developed and each managed to leave Germany and found their way to Britain as the Nazis rose to power. Shanti joined the army and lost his right arm at the battle of Monte Cassino, while Henny (whose family were to die in the camps) made a life for herself in her adopted country. After the war they married and lived the emigre life in north London where Shanti, despite the loss of his arm, became a much-loved dentist. During his own adolescence in England, Vikram Seth lived with Shanti and Henny and came to know and love them deeply. His is the third life in this story of TWO LIVES. This is also a book about history, encompassing as it does many of the most significant themes and events in the 20th century, whose currents are reflected in the lives of Shanti, Henny and their family: from the Raj and the Indian freedom movement to the Third Reich, the Holocaust and British postwar society.

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Praise for Two Lives

  • This is an accomplished and profoundly moving work - DAILY TELEGRAPH

  • Written as an act of love and duty it is a testament to his modesty and familial affection. - SUNDAT TIMES

  • A fascinating and honest read. - TRIBUNE

  • Seth is a thorough biographer, but his considerable narrative skill is as evident here as it is in his fiction... One of the beauties of TWO LIVES is that it transcends its subject matter, becoming a celebration of endurance, a recognition of all lives pun - SUNDAY BUSINESS POST

  • '[A] Persian carpet of a biography ... pleasurable and

  • astonishing' - Irish Times

  • 'This is an accomplished and profoundly moving work' - Telegraph

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Vikram Seth

Vikram Seth was born in 1952. He trained as an economist and has lived for several years each in England, California, China and India. He is the author of A Suitable Boy, which was an international number one bestseller, An Equal Music and several other novels. He has also written seven volumes of poetry including Beastly Tales and Summer Requiem.