Rubina Ramesh has done it again! After her first book of short stories titled, ‘Knitted Tales’, which brought forth myriad moods of life, her ‘Finding the Angel’ comes across as a breezy romance that is easy and pleasant to read. The mystery kicks in later, but romance it is that reigns, and lingers.
“When he became the seeker, she was his haven. When she became demanding, he became her beacon.”
Shefali Verma is employed to catalogue the Ranaut antiques, and entrusted with the Angel with Egg in a Chariot, a rare, beautiful Fabergé egg, part of the private collection of the Ranaut Dynasty, given to Rani Gitanjali Devi by her late husband. “The Angel, a Fabergé renowned for its workmanship, was a legend, a sort of folklore, amongst art collectors”.
Enter the cool, handsome hero, Prince Arjun Ranaut, who had taken over the helm of the Ranaut empire at the age of twenty-three. Disarmingly handsome, with a magnetic personality to boot, it requires all Shefali’s will power to heed her boss, Kalpana Desai’s advice to keep away from him as he is reputed to be a heartbreaker; advice easier given, than followed!
Kalpana, Shefali’s mother’s best friend, had cocooned her against the world after the death of the latter’s parents. She had lovingly moulded her into “the confident and articulate woman she had turned out to be”. The Ranaut project is vital for Kalpana’s company, and she has full confidence in her protégé’s ability.
An interesting first encounter with the Prince starts off with a minor misunderstanding, which Shefali handles with élan. This is a man who is used to women throwing themselves at him, and she will not succumb!
The characters are fascinating, almost etched from real life – the elegant Gitanjali Devi, Sonakshi, her elder daughter who takes her royalty and her husband equally seriously, guarding both jealously, and her husband, Arvind Singh, who has a roving eye. In stark contrast is her bubbly younger daughter, Raima, who proves an ally to Shefali, and her rather tame husband, Sameer Kothari. Another storybook character is Shekhar Ranaut, a cousin, who is interesting in his own right.
When Shefali abandons the prestigious Ranaut project after the loss of the Fabergé, blame falls on her slender shoulders. How will she handle the scandal and the heartbreak of losing the man she has fallen in love with? Arjun Ranaut makes it clear that he “could forget the Angel but not the deception.”
‘Finding the Angel’ is a tempestuous love story that has its ups and downs as contrasting emotions grapple with one another. The sprint and the chase, the sudden changes in mood, the tantalizing game of romance and the obvious attraction between the protagonists, keep the readers on tenterhooks as they wait for the inevitable. But before that, there is a mystery to be solved as well.
Rubina Ramesh tells a simple story, one that is a delight to read. The scenic beauty of Ranaut, a hundred miles away from Pali in Rajasthan, comes across in her picturesque descriptions, as do the traditions that lie hidden in expressions like ‘‘Khamaghani’ the Rajasthani greeting, ‘Hukum’, ‘Bhaisa’ and ‘Kuvar’, titles that are so typical. She tells the saga of the Ranaut dynasty in almost soulful prose.
“How many names of lovers were carved on the stone wall, most of them dying a silent death of unfulfilled promises?”
Finally, all the threads are tied together and the mystery dovetails into a satisfactory ending, leaving the reader content at having enjoyed a good read.