Beneath Divided Skies

by Chandra Sundeep
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Cover picture of Beneath Divided Skies by Natasha Sharma

Beneath Divided Skies is a remarkable debut by Natasha Sharma. This gripping historical novel revolves around the partition of India, one of the worst incidents our nation has ever faced. It is a well-researched novel and excels in vividly portraying the era.

The story takes place in 1947, when India was no longer a united land. Unsurprisingly, both India and Pakistan were in a state of mayhem, with instances of rape, murder, looting, and riots. People were being butchered, families were uprooted and torn apart. Among those facing such great torture is the main protagonist, Satya, a teenage girl. She witnesses her entire family being massacred before her eyes. Instead of breaking down, she finds courage in her sorrow and joins a covert operation aimed at rescuing and rehabilitating abducted women during the chaos of Partition.

Satya’s resilience, courage, and growth are evident as the narrative unfolds. The stories of Santosh, Amrita, Prerna, Preeto, and Gurpreet serve as brutal reminders of how women were used as instruments of revenge and retribution. The characters Ikankaar and Iqbal are also wonderful and will remain in my memory for a long time.

The novel intricately portrays the human cost of partition by delving into the deep physical and emotional scars it left on millions of people. Natasha provides a stark glimpse into the lives uprooted by this upheaval, not shying away from narrating the brutal realities of abduction, violence, misogyny, hatred, and the societal stigmas faced by women in times of war.

But it’s not all gory and dark.

Through its narration, it strengthens our faith in the inherent goodness of humanity and the transformative influence of kindness. Like the delicate silk threads in a phulkari dupatta, love, friendship, kindness, and resilience are artfully intertwined within the fabric of the story.

Writing historical fiction is a challenging task, as it requires authenticity and accurate portrayal of events and settings. Natasha deserves praise for her meticulous research and for creating such an authentic and immersive piece of work. Her evocative writing effectively brings the historical period to life. The vivid and detailed descriptions make the reading experience highly visual. From cultural nuances and vernacular usage to clothing details and more, the story truly comes to life, transporting readers to the plains of northern India and Pakistan.As someone who has read numerous books on genocide, I often find that these stories are influenced by human bias, which is only natural. However, Natasha’s book stands out in its ability to remain impartial. She presents a balanced view and does not take sides or elevate one perspective over another. The only voices that truly resonate are those of humanity and resilience.

Although the pacing slows down in the second half, it is not enough to discourage readers.

Overall, I found the story enjoyable, but there were a few aspects that I couldn’t fully appreciate. Firstly, Preeto’s sudden disappearance puzzled me. The author’s reasoning behind this character’s trajectory was unclear to me.

Secondly, I believe that the relationship between Satya, Ikankar, and their children could have been better developed. The bond between mother and daughter felt lacking, and it was difficult for me to believe that a child of refugees would be so disconnected from the realities of her parent’s lives.

Despite these flaws, Beneath Divided Skies is a highly recommended novel. It beautifully embodies the strength and determination of countless women whose stories remain untold and whose faces remain unseen.

 

Wordsopedia Rating–4/5

 

Title: Beneath Divided Skies Author: Natasha Sharma
Publisher: Vishwakarma Publications Publication date: March 19, 2024
Genre: Fiction—Historical Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9789395481533 No. of Pages: 216

Buy your copy here on Amazon

About the Author

Natasha Sharma is a freelance software developer who moonlights as a writer. She has been a voracious consumer of the written word since her childhood and is never without a book (or a Kindle) by her side. A true blue feminist, she is passionate about creating awareness of gender inequality and other social issues. Her work displays a characteristic streak of cleverness and wit.

 

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