Wednesday 13 March 2013

Dancing To The Flute

Dancing To The Flute is Manisha Jolie Amin's debut novel and will be published in the UK by Alma Books in March 2013.

Told in four parts, the story is themed around the Indian raag (raag: a musical form or a composition in this form; the word 'raag' means 'mood').  The author has structured the story so that each part mimics each part of a raag; starting slowly and gathering pace as it progresses.

The reader is introduced to Kalu; a street-urchin with no family.  A little boy who lives on the streets of a small rural town in India.  Kalu spends his days running errands for the local shop-keepers and trying to find enough food to stop his belly from growling.   Kalu has two friends; Malti - a young girl who works for Ganga B and Bal, a boy who is even poorer than Kalu and was sold by his family and tends to the buffalo flock.
Kalu has a special talent.  He can make magical music from a flute that he fashions from the leaves of a tree.  It is this talent that gets him noticed by a travelling healer, and ultimately changes his life.

Dancing To The Flute is both evocative and colourful, the reader is transported to the small, busy, hot and dusty rural Indian town by the author's wonderfully descriptive writing.  The sounds, the smells, the heat are conveyed perfectly.  Each character is drawn with skill and compassion and soon become so familiar that they feel as though they are part of your family.

This is a story about finding a place in a world that can appear to be cruel and frightening, it's about finding trust again after being let down, and it's about the power of friendship.   Kalu's story is filled with hope, for himself and for his friends.  Despite Kalu's success, his two friends remain closest to his heart, and their troubles and their pain is felt as much by him as by them.  It is a journey of discovery for the three young friends, often tinged with sadness, but always with love.

Manisha Jolie Amin has brought to life not just the three main characters and the accompanying supporting cast, but also the area of rural India.   The story is beautifully written, unfolding slowly and gradually building up to become a very entertaining and enjoyable read.

Manisha Jolie Amin was born in Kenya and moved to Australia with her family when she was five.  Sydney is her home, although she travels frequently to both India and England to visit family. Manisha lives with her husband, son and cat.  Dancing To The Flute is her first novel.   For more information about Manisha take a look at her website at  
She also has a Twitter account here, and a Facebook page here

I'd like to thank Elisabetta Minervini from Alma Books for sending a copy for review.  For more information about Alma Books, take a look at their website at, or on Twitter here, and Facebook here

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