Tiger Hills by Sarita Mandanna

I picked up this book for a lark(like I pick up most books these days). Some of the books I pick up like this end up very disappointing. This one on the other hand, was anything but disappointing.

It was riveting. The story of Devi, a girl born in Coorg in late 1800s. Devi is a wilful child with her mind of her own, unlike other girls at that time. She decides at the age of 10 that she would marry the Tiger Killer, Machu, her best friend Devanna’s cousin. Devanna, on the other hand grows up, desperately in love with Devi, who is completely unaware of his feelings. Devanna is a very intelligent child and is mentored by the local Reverend. He shares a love for Botany with the Reverend, and both of them spend a lot of time together finding specimens in the rich Coorg forests. His dedication towards biology pushes him into a medical school education, which turns the tide for everyone involved.

The way their lives turn out, weaved in with what is happening in Coorg at that time, makes for a fascinating read. The beauty, traditions, and the culture of the place is brought out beautifully by the author. The book transports you to the Coorg that Devi lived in. From the older times when Coorg was untouched by outside influences, to when Eurpoean influences gets the locals to change their names from Kalamma to Kitty, just as Nari Malai gets changed to Tiger Hills.

The story is fast paced, with shocking twists and turns, making us empathize with the characters at so many levels, even when they end up doing things which are not quite right.. A story of love, unrequited and requited, a story of the things people do when consumed by emotions, a story of how normal lives can change in an instant.

A book that gripped me through it. I would not call it a fast read, but a book which refuses to let go, even after you turn the last page.

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