A Book A Week Challenge – Week 42

Asha Bandele’s “The Prisoner’s Wife” have two peculiar things – one, it is by far one of the few books that I have read that relies on “love’ in its true form- there is no thriller, there is no suspense, there is no sci-fi, Love is all that is there. Second, it is a memoir which makes it even difficult to put out in public about loving someone who is sentenced twenty years for a murder.

9780671021481_hr.jpgBook #: 42

Title: The Prisoner’s Wife” by Asha Bandele

Pages: 243

“The Prisoner’s Wife” is a memoir of a twenty-something girl who fell in love with a prisoner who is serving twenty years for a proved murder. It dwindles between despair and hope at a frequency that is way too lower than you would expect. We have heard stories about separation way before we read any of our modern day literature- our mythology cherishes and rides on this.

In Hindu mythology, every story is filled with it. We have heard stories of Seetha waiting for Rama to come escape her for the bonds of Ravana, in Savitri, we heard stories of a woman fighting with Lord Yama to earn back the life of her husband. In real life, majorly during the World War and even in the modern day scenarios of American attack on Afghanistan and Iraq; and Indian Army men guarding the fence with their praying every single day for their safety and return. But, in most of the scenarios, the husband/ lover is often regarded as a man of respect. He is set out there for a cause – protecting the national interests, or protecting the kingdoms in mythology.

Here is where “The Prisoner’s Wife” needed to put in that extra motivation into the narration that should clear away the notions of his crimes and focus on the affection and love that an educated female feels towards a criminal. Humans, as we are, doesn’t have ‘Love’ as their core emotion. It is generally referred from a POV of physical attraction or seeking to belong but not ever as an individual emotion. I am not sure if this had to be blamed on the research done post the societal existence- might that be a biased we never tried to account for in our analyses. But, nevertheless, “The Prisoner’s Wife” strikes that chord spot on.

The book never distracts from its core emotion- it talks about love and purely about the effects that it brings to one’s life. The most common challenge that the modern day love stories face in comparison to medieval/ ancient day times of mythology or Shakespearean ways is a common belief that it no longer exists. The stories are narrated with a sense that there is some catch within the love and pure love is an emotion that might never have existed.

What Asha’s book tries to tell you is- there is indeed a true love in its form that might be or might not be agreed upon by any of us but it doesn’t matter to the person who is experiencing it. The challenge with reading a book like this in the present day polluted circumstances is the influence of need for creating an eagerness rather than creating calmness. The Google Search of “The Prisoner’s Wife” will take result in many pages that are referenced to BBC’s television series titled “Prisoner’s Wives” with Guardian’s review starting with “Forget the title”.

Bandele, Asha photo - credit Mary Ellen Mark.jpg

The best thing about this book is the closing letter that was titled “28 July”. You might find this more dramatic or cheesy to your liking but keep reading through it understanding the emotion that a person had to undergo waiting for the person she loved, it is one of the best love stories I have read in ages (even for my personal dislike of rom-com that now form substitute for love stories.)


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