Looking for the Rainbow: My Years With Daddy At age eight, Ruskin escapes his jail-like boarding school in the hills and goes to live with his father in Delhi. His time in the capital is filled with books, visits to the cinema, music and walks and conversations with his father—a dream life for a curious and wildly imaginative boy, which turns tragic all too soon.
For years, Ruskin Bond has regaled and mesmerized readers with his tales. In Looking for the Rainbow, Bond travels to his own past, recalling his favourite adventures (and misadventures) with extraordinary charm, splotches of wit, a pinch of poignance and not a trace of bitterness.
What you’re holding, dear reader, is a classic in the making.
Till the Clouds Roll By: Beginning Again A couple of years after his father’s death, ten-year-old Ruskin travels to Dehradun to spend his holidays with his new family. As he reacquaints himself with his mother, now remarried and with a busy social life, his stepfather and new siblings, a pensive Ruskin longs for his father’s company, his stamp collection and the old gramophone. Trying to escape this unfamiliar place, he immerses himself in books and explores the forest glades, canals and bazaars of the little town, forming some unlikely friendships on the way.
After the much-loved Looking for the Rainbow, the master storyteller lends another backward glance at his boyhood years-a vacation that took place over seventy winters ago-remembering his days with rare humour, remarkable charm and twinges of heartache.
Coming Round the Mountain: In the Year of Independence ‘It was 1947, and life was about to change quite dramatically for most of us’ Thirteen-year-old Ruskin is back at school, doing what he loves-reading, goal-keeping, spending time with his friends and eating lots of jalebis. But things seem to be rapidly changing all around him. Whispers of a partition haunt the corridors of his school. Does the formation of a new, independent India mean saying goodbye to old friends-and, with it, the shenanigans they got up to?
On the heels of Looking for the Rainbow and Till the Clouds Roll By, Coming Round the Mountain is yet another look at the past, in particular one memorable year, 1947, during which a lot happened to Ruskin and those around him. It is a fitting finale to a journey down memory lane, one about accepting change and finding hope in the unknown days to come.
A Song of India: The year I went away Sixteen-year-old Ruskin, after having finally finished his school, is living with his stepfather and mother at the Old Station Canteen in Dehradun. Struggling to begin his writing journey, he tries to make a passage to England to chase his true calling. But as he prepares for his long voyage, the prospect of saying goodbye to the warm, sunny shores of India looms large.
Brought straight from his past, Ruskin Bond recalls the longing for familiarity, the joys of receiving his first money order, publishing his stories and finding new friends. Following the trail of Looking for the Rainbow, Till the Clouds Roll By and Coming Round the Mountain, A Song of India is another year from the life of a fiery teenager as he embarks on a journey to an unfamiliar land.
Listen to Your Heart: The London Adventure ‘I followed my heart instead of my head. It is something I have done all my life.’
Shortly before his eighteenth birthday, Ruskin embarks on a literary journey and reaches England after charting unknown waters. Greeted by the uncertainties of a new city, he muses over his loneliness, switches jobs, falls in love, befriends the ocean and relentlessly chases a big dream! What follows next is the metamorphosis of a journal entry into a novel as we time-travel to the fascinating events that led to the making of his iconic book, The Room on the Roof.
Capturing memorable experiences from young Ruskin’s life, Listen to Your Heart is an inspiration for aspiring young writers, a meditation on embracing fears, seizing every opportunity but most importantly living one’s dreams.
Ruskin Bond is one of the greatest children’s book writers of all time. His writing style is simple and quick to relate to, no matter where you are from. Ruskin’s Boyhood Memoir Series is an account of his life from age 8 to 18. I am going to share the review of the entire series of five books here.
The series takes place in Delhi, Dehradun and England, and is based on Ruskin’s real-life experiences growing up, covering his development from a young boy into a young man. Each book, of around a hundred pages, is just an hour-long read with beautiful illustrations every few pages. The series portrays Indian life and culture with Ruskin’s evocative and lyrical writing style.
The series is a delightful read, full of Ruskin’s trademark wit and humour and is full of great bookish recommendations.
In the first book “Looking for the Rainbow: My Years With Daddy” the reader gets introduced to Ruskin’s early life and family situation. His love for his father is visible and almost tangible. We are taken around Delhi. It is the place I have lived for 21 years. And it is the place he talks about with an experience from 70 years ago. And, it still feels the same. We get to know about Ruskin’s father’s death, which is emotional but not too dramatic. The writing style is comforting and the book ends with a hopeful note.
In the second book “Till the Clouds Roll By: Beginning Again”, Ruskin Bond spends his vacation with his mother and stepfather. We see Ruskin’s adventurous side and his growing love for reading. The reader gets to know where Ruskin’s love for reading/written word comes from. The gradual attempt of an introvert to find an escape from the boring reality and unexpected friendships comforts Ruskin as he deals with the loss of his father. It is another warm story that would motivate its readers to deal with their own personal tragedies and find positivity in life.
The third book “Coming Round the Mountain: In the Year of Independence” takes place around the year of Independence. We see Ruskin Bond, being a typical teenager, who loves goofing around with his friends. And, later we also see him dealing with the loss of his friends who had to leave. Ruskin very eloquently provides a teenager’s perspective about the struggles people faced during the partition in a very sad yet optimistic manner.
By the fourth book “A Song of India: The year I went away”, Ruskin Bond has identified his love for writing. The freedom of getting a space of his own, and being able to write uninterrupted, plays a big role in his writing journey, giving the readers hope that the tiniest wins of life can actually lead them to bigger achievements. However, like many of us, he struggles to get recognition for his talent. He faces rejection and critique, but nothing makes him lose hope. He knows he wants to become a writer, and he takes all the necessary steps to get closer to his goal. One of those steps being to leave India
In the final book “Listen to Your Heart: The London Adventure”, he reaches London, which proves to be a difficult transition. Struggling to make both ends meet, he works hard, while writing passionately. After being rejected by multiple publishers, his manuscript is finally picked by an editor who wants to take a chance on him, provided he makes some changes, and also gives him an advance cheque. Ruskin’s love for India finally takes over, and he returns to India to continue writing in the warmth and familiarity of the country. As an Indian, my love for my country grows as Ruskin presents it to me with a fresher yet yesteryear’s perspective.
Though these books can be read as standalone, I got the opportunity to read all 5 books in a go, and they couldn’t have been read in a better manner. It is an overall wholesome comforting experience reading about one of my favourite authors’ childhood, struggles, and early journey towards becoming India’s best author.