An unloved woman is a soft target, anyone can hit her, have her.
It’s just another evening at the Tiller’s Club.
Near the bar, Capt. Rana, the Young Officer undergoing training at the War College stands among his course mates, consciously avoiding his pregnant, Muslim wife, Heena. Rumour has it she had forced him to marry her because of the baby.
Saryu, village belle turned modern babe, drink in hand, chats up a YO. Her husband, Maj. Vikram Singh, shoots angry glances at her. She isn’t bothered; the question is, who will she go home with tonight?
Pam and Gary, the flamboyant Sikh couple, chat merrily with the senior officers, charming as ever. Who’d ever guess that they lead the infamous Key Club, an underground swinger couples’ club.
And in one corner stands the Anglo-Indian wife of Maj. George Chandy, Eva, who finds herself at the heart of a murder mystery when a woman’s bleeding body is discovered at the old church under the black cross. The murdered woman’s body is covered with cigarette burns. A six-year-old girl’s wrist is similarly marked. Another little girl shows signs of severe abuse.
Jacob Hills: an army station that houses the War College where young officers receive training. A world of army officers and genteel conversation, of smart men and graceful women. Set in the 1980s – in an India that was at the cusp of tradition and Westernized modernity – this is the story of the ugliness that lies beneath the garb ofJacob Hills’s beauty and sophistication. An ugliness the Chandys find themselves confronted with. Will they uncover the truth behind the woman’s murder? Will their love survive Jacob Hills?
Jacob Hills by Ismita Tandon Dhankher is a hard hitting book. It takes place in a place called Jacob Hills which is actually a War College. It gives us an insight into what goes on with all the officers in the army. It is set in the 1980s when things were much different from now. I really enjoyed Jacob Hills and found it to be a unique book. Even though it was fiction, the events which took place seemed realistic and harsh.
Jacob Hills moves forward from multiple point of views. Each couple or an officer who is shown in the book are going through their own issues. Each person is hiding behind a facade underneath which lies the ugly truth. All the characters in Jacob Hills had shades of grey. None of them were totally good or bad. Each person had become who he or she was because of the circumstances which life gave them.
The central character in Jacob Hills was Eva though. She is the Anglo-Indian wife of Maj.George Chandy who have just moved to Jacob Hills. Here Eva meets various people and as and how she gets to know them the various dynamics between the people start showing. As many more truths come out, Eva finds herself in the middle of a murder mystery of a woman who had clearly been abused all her life by an officer.
There are several story arcs going on at the same time in Jacob Hills. Some are intertwined with each other whereas some are not. I sometimes found it a little difficult to keep track of each person. The book is filled with issues such as incest and abuse. There is also the swinger's club which is present. Some things portrayed in the book were shocking whereas some were downright disgusting.
Ismita Tandon Dhankher's writing is beautiful. All the descriptions were precise and you really get a feel of what's going on inside each person's head. All the story arcs came to a conclusion by the end and I was happy that nothing was left hanging. Everyone got what they deserved. Jacob Hills is not a very long read but it still manages to stay with you long after you close the last page.