The Alvenaz Villa by Subodh Sharma: Tracing Ancestry through Orphans  

Lost land, lost people, fading history…old memories. This is typical Subodh Sharma. He has a penchant for mixing class in the history of customs and heritage that binds his characters. His novels are deeply rooted in family values, especially the sweet memories of childhood. He tries to connect the characters and their peculiar characterization through memories, good old days of school, parental love, family days and so on.

His new novella ‘The Alvenaz Villa’ has that old classic theme of evoking memories at mid age when the characters long for their childhood and family and those gathering of cultural mixing that have been abandoned with the passage of time.

Like in his previous novel, ‘Reminisce of the Lost Land’, he takes us to some characters from mixed class, royal, foreign, and poor. He weaves stories about their interdependence and crossing of each other with lieu to their work and culture and social needs. The tapestry of stories is subtle, impressive, brilliant, and creates a sense of pain and empathy for the characters.

‘The Alvenaz Villa’ narrates the story of two women, thirty-eight-year-old Magdhele, and twenty-one-year old Carolina. They are living together at the villa called Alvenaz. Who built this and why – it has a long family history that needs to be understood as one chugs ahead with the novel. Anyway, both women live together and are in awe of each other. They are silent yet co-operating and have that great sub audition which is missing nowadays.

Another gripping aspect of the novel is its summing up life of female orphans. Are they different from normal family people? Yes, they are bound by loneliness and solitude. With orphan hood, it is inevitable that a person is cut off from the mainstream world and people talk a lot about them, people gossip about them, keep a tab on them, they circulate deeds of their dead parents, while many try to remind them of their parents’ greatness while some make them nostalgic with sharing old memories.

“Magdhele is the daughter of Balduino and Laura Alvenaz, who lived in the town. Aloiso built that villa on the hill, away from the town. Magdhele lost her parents at an early age and she shifted to that villa. The lady you are talking about is Carolina, daughter of Aloiso and Joana.”  

The above excerpt shows that any visit or happening in orphans’ lives is being noticed keenly by the worldly people. However, the twist in the novella is to seek avenues of leading a good and privileged life like normal folks. But is that possible for them? Fingers crossed.

People destined to live alone are prone to homely chores and appreciate the nature around them. The way both women carry out their chores amidst the haunting of past life is brilliantly captured with deft of wording.

Reading this novel is as great as an exquisite experience, not all books are done with such subtly. It’s a highly readable novella of its own genre and class.

Our Views on the Cover:

The black and white cover is simple that gives aptness to the title. It looks like a house or villa left to fend itself. Of course it radiates vibes of memories and vestige of lost culture and gone people. It could have been better with one or two characters built around it. Otherwise it works for this title.

Our Views on the Characters:

The novella is more about loneliness, aloofness, solitude, recluse from the society, thus its both women character are well-drawn. However, the age gap between Magdhele and Carolina is evident, the former being more subservient and silent while the younger lady more talkative and full of life and still open for new avenues in life.

TitleThe Alvenaz Villa
Edition Reviewed2022
AuthorSubodh Sharma
The Asian Review Rating8 out of 10

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