Secrets. Yet another book by Ruskin Bond. I saw the book at Flipkart website and I ordered it without even realizing that it was a story book. But then again, it hardly matters whether it’s stories or novels. When it comes to Ruskin, especially when he writes about his beloved Dehra, anything is everything is just unbelievable.
By now you must have understood how great a fan of Bond I am. Still, I’ll try to give an unbiased review of the book. But then again, a fan is a fan, so no guarantees attached.
The one hundred and fifty page book has seven stories, out of which, the first, called The Canal, was one of the best. Even the story doesn’t have so much of a ‘story,’ Ruskin is just superbly natural when it comes to depicting his childhood, when he talks about things he did with friends.
The second, a more grave one, and probably all real, as he indicates in the Introduction, is another touching one, and is probably the best story of the book. The story called ‘Over the Wall’ very innocently pictures the approach of children to serious matters, especially when they understand it. What amazes me is how he can express things from childhood, some 65-70 years ago.
The third story, Gracie, is about a person I have read in Ruskin’s stories before as well. But then, the story was a bit different this time, with a little twist. Almost certainly fiction is mixed with facts in the particular story, but with such craft that it’s a delight to read.
At Green’s Hotel, though, was the first story that I didn’t like so much. Ruskin tries a little Crime-detective thing here which is again fiction with facts in the background, but this one didn’t work out so well.
One more detective story, The Skeleton in the Cupboard, is not that great, especially the end of it, but it’s a little differently written. Though, another drawback of the story is that it’s a bit too clearly fictitious, something that doesn’t look very great when facts are there in the background of the story. Still, an okay read.
Late night show is yet another fact-fiction mix by Bond, in which the story develops quite interestingly and except for a slightly too twisted end, the story is kind of nice. In fact, even though I didn’t like the end, Ruskin’s story-telling is perfect here, something I will have to say because the story has almost printed into my mind, even the end of it.
The Tiger in the lounge is a small, and in a way commonplace story, but with a little imaginative twist at the end. Had not expected much from the story so liked it.
Overall, Secrets is a mixed book by Ruskin Bond (mixed from Bond’s standards, mind you) where he has tried a few detective stories as well, these told with the backdrop of his childhood. The first three stories, which have no crime and detective-giri, touched me more. But then, I have never really been a detective story type. If you’re Ruskin Bond lover, buy the book for the first three stories, and you may get the rest in Bonus. And if you are not one, well.. try to be one.