“(Let me) Be as a whetstone for others to be sharpened upon” (Latin-fungar vice cotis) ~Anonymous
This book review is on the Books & Broads Book Club February book, Flame Tree Road by Shona Patel.
Intellectual dishonesty, I despise intellectual dishonest, and that is what I felt this author wrote: an intellectually dishonest book. Intellectual dishonesty is when someone fails to apply standards of rational evaluation that one is aware of, usually in a self-serving fashion. Reading this book, I felt that the author was only interested in what she wanted to write about and not caring if she kept the storyline true to form for the audience. Extreme opinion from me? Probably, but that is the feeling I had reading this book the entire time.
I know all novels are works of fiction, that I have no issues with that, however, this author was intellectually dishonest (in my honest opinion) starting with the description of what the book was about on the cover.
This book claimed to be about a man, Biren Roy, who uses his law degree to pioneer academic equality for girls. Sounds good, right? The actual storyline did not even come close to the description until two-thirds of the way into the book. Most of the story focused on Biren’s parents and their relationships with others when Biren was a young child. This really started me on believing this was written with intellectual dishonesty.
Throughout my reading of Flame Tree Road, I toggled between wondering when the author was going to start writing about the descripted storyline to thinking I was reading a botany text book. There were beautiful descriptions of trees found in India, such good descriptions that you could close your eyes and see all the details of each tree. Shona Patel also did a wonderful job describing the landscaping in India.
I wish the author would have put as much time and energy when it came to the different characters in the book as she did with the trees and landscaping. Throughout the book, I felt the characters in the story were more background players compared to the trees. This feeling was due to the fact that I did not feel the author was as committed to her characters as she was to her native country of India.
This book did have many interesting facts about the social caste (hierarchy) that the people of India followed, however, I still had a hard time delving into the story because of my feelings of intellectual dishonesty on the author’s part. There was an amazing analogy given in the story about how certain people are like certain types of trees which was really cool.
Overall, there were minimal quality nuggets in the story and the characters were undeveloped. I felt the author, Shona Patel, really lost her way in this book and forgot her main purpose of what the storyline was about. I may decide to reread this book down the road for the simple hope of finding something to enjoy in the book aside from the trees. Until then, I have a bad taste in my mouth for this author and will probably never read another book by her (unless it is a botany text book).
I give Flame Tree Road by Shona Patel 1 out of 5 Bookmarks, Dear Bloggites. Read something wonderful but not this book, I cannot recommend this book to anyone to read.