Name: The Red Sari
Author: Javier Moro
Publisher: Roli Books
Publication Year: 2015
Number of pages: 429
Price: 395 INR
My rating: 3.5/5
The Storyline –
The book is a biography of the Indian politician Mrs. Sonia Gandhi. The book traces the life of Mrs. Gandhi from the year 1965 when she met her husband Mr. Rajiv Gandhi till the year 2014. Through her life, the history of Indian politics from the house of the Nehru-Gandhi family is traced. The author, Javier Moro, has sourced information about Mrs. Gandhi from her close friends and colleagues. The book examines how Sonia’s courage, honesty and dedication has made her a leader in the eyes of one-sixth of humanity. From her idyllic childhood to her passionate love affair and from her days as a docile daughter-in-law to her current status of being the only Indian politician to have refused prime ministership.
The Red Sari – is the sari which was worn by Indira Gandhi on her wedding day. It was the sari which was woven by her father Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Indian Prime Minister, by hand when he was in prison. This same sari was later worn by Sonia Gandhi for her wedding with Rajiv Gandhi. It was later also worn by Sonia’s daughter Priyanka Gandhi at her wedding. Probably, the author means to convey that power lies in the Red Sari.
What worked for me –
The language and editing of the book is excellent. The book is originally written in Spanish and has been translated to English by Peter J Hearn. The book moves at a constant pace which is neither too fast nor too slow. The book is high on emotions. There is the attitude of Mrs. Indira Gandhi and her witty retorts, her political astuteness, her legacy and the functioning of the Indian political system, the kitchen politics of the ladies of the house. But some of the best parts are the relationships of Sonia and Rajiv Gandhi, Indira Gandhi and grandchildren Rahul and Priyanka, the friendship of Indira Gandhi and her friend Pupul Jaykar. They have been beautifully explored. The sad events of Sonia’s life where in Indira Gandhi is shot at, Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination is heart-wrenching.
What did not work –
Perhaps, the author should have explored a bit more of the relation between Sonia and her children. It would have shown a different aspect of Sonia Gandhi. Sonia Gandhi is also shown here as a paragon of virtue with no flaws. Maybe she is like that but it is difficult to believe. The book also does not explore further on the Bofors issue which had affected the Gandhis, the relation between them and the Bachans. These are important aspects of their lives, but it has been skipped.
This is also a Biography where in Sonia Gandhi has not given a single interview to the author. He has never even spoken to Sonia Gandhi. The whole book is based on interviews with close friends and relatives, other books and newspaper reports. So, the stamp of authentication from the subject is not there.
Overall verdict –
The book is an excellent read if you want to know the history of India from the time Indira Gandhi becomes the Prime Minister till Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. The book is neatly paced with excellent language. There is lot of action and you can understand the characters at a deeper level as to what goes on behind the famous faces.