This is a deeply absorbing book, but not perhaps as intended. The correspondence is between two persons both of whom evoke much interest in this country. Attention is sought to be focused on Indira Gandhi, to show the influences which moulded her in her youth and how by the age of 22 she is said to have come into her own. But there is nothing in these letters to hint even faintly at the splitter of Pakistan and the imposer of the Emergency. Indira Gandhi emerges as a lonely girl heavily dependent on her parents, an average student who took little advantage of an education which provided her with the best of all possible worlds, an in-drawn person reticent about her emotions. There is no inkling in her letters of the known tension between her and her father in 1938-39. The only letter written by her in this collection which is of any real significance is that of 29 August 1934 which, for once, pulls aside the curtain of effusive Anglo-Saxon endearments and throws open the window on Kamala Nehru’s unhappiness: in Anand Bhawan during Nehru’s frequent absences.
Nov-Dec 1989, volume 13, No 6