One look at the cover and one can sense the essence of the Coorg landscape- The silk border, jeweled hilt of the dagger, coffee plants against the backdrop of the hills.
Tiger Hills is a moving epic story encompassing generations of a family living in the Coorg estate.
The story covers a range of historical facts and customs of Coorg and also explores the political scene during that time.
The description of the coffee estate is vivid and evocative. One can almost smell the coffee flower and sense the rains in the hilly Coorg.
The narrative is kept neutral leaving the reader to judge the way the characters respond to situations or make choices in their life. I flitted between hurt at Devi’s predicament and sympathy for Devanna and many a times I felt shocked at Devi’s callousness towards her own son, despite fully understanding the reasons behind her attitude. Such is the power of the narrative.
The scene unfolds in 1878 with the birth of Devi, the first girl born in the family after about 60 years.
She is the darling of the household and extremely willful. She grows up with her cousin Devanna whose mother died under tragic circumstances. Devi is Devanna’s first and only love.
During an intriguing Tiger wedding that happened in the nearby village Devi meets Devanna’s cousin Machu, the brave and handsome tiger killer. She vows to marry Machu and only Machu.
With time Machu returns her affections but he is bound by a vow of brahmacharya for a certain number of years.
Meanwhile, Devanna’s is sent to Bangalore for studying medicine. Devanna bears the traumas of hostel life with courage and determination but after a very particular tragic incident he is driven back to his village and commits a terrible act with larger repercussions.
Circumstances cause Devi & Devanna to get married but Devi is still in love with Machu.
Does time heal Devi’s hurts?
Will Devanna ever earn the affection of Devi?
How does Devi’s love for Machu manifest in a later stage of life?
These and more developments make this a fascinating and absorbing read.
The very fact that the size of this book did not deter an impatient reader like me and kept me going till the very end, speaks volumes about the quality of writing and the plot.