I've never read a historical set novel in India before so I was very interested to find out about life there and I found learning more about India's past very fascinating. The setting really brings something new and fresh to the historical fiction genre. I learnt about the religious conflict that began to cause unrest and divide communities in riots. The little details that are hidden in Bilal's first person narrative make it clear that a lot of research was put into the novel.
Irfan Master's writing deals with a serious situation with sensitive, honest and beautiful writing and above all, Bilal's concern and love for his father can plainly be seen so that it is easier to understand why he spun the lie he did in order to protect him. This special relationship between Bilal and his father was lovely and convincingly touching to read about yet so sad at the same time. It also turned out to be one of my favourite things about the book.
I also liked the relationship between Bilal and his group of friends because despite their religious differences, which elsewhere were tearing the country apart, stuck with each other and were willing to do anything to help Bilal.The focus on the young boys in the book helped me to see how the events that took place around the partition affected ordinary people and also gave the book a lighter touch as I loved reading about their life at school and the excitement of cricket matches.
The underlying messages of religious tolerance and intolerance are just as important as they were then, as are the themes of truth, friendship and love that are intertwined with the story.
Verdict: A Beautiful Lie is a very emotional and engaging debut novel but also a delightful one that is full of moments of smiles and tears. The vivid setting and characters made me really enjoy it and I think Irfan Master's next books will be ones to look out for!
It has just been shortlisted for the Waterstone's Children's Book Prize.
Thank you to Bloomsbury UK for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.