Thursday, March 8, 2012

Ken Follett: A Place Called Freedom

I was away from Hyderabad over the weekend and took advantage of the six hours of train journey on each side by completing Follett's book, 'A Place called Freedom'. As I browsed through the prologue, I discovered, to my dismay, that I had read the book before. But thankfully, I remembered nothing beyond the prologue. I must have read this book, written in 1995, long back.
The spell-binding narration did not allow me to put the book down. The nearly 600-page novel was completed in those 12 hours of journey. The story weaves through the 1700s rendering a flavor of those times though not giving us an expansive view of the history. History has always fascinated me and to be able to live that era through this book was a delectable treat.
It is the story of a coal miner, Mack,who yearns for freedom from bondage to the mine owners. His audacity in refusing to be bound generation after generation to the mine-owners and his dream to be a free man forms the crux of the story.
In this quest, we are taken from Scotland to London where the protagonist, Mack, finds himself in a different kind of bondage. Free entrepreneurship is frowned upon and the workers are forced to be a part of the conniving nexus between greedy middlemen and the owners. This evil liaison cheats the workers of their honest wages. When Mack forms his own group of workers, he is labeled a 'communist' and, as was the norm those days, he is deported to the US, a land which was considered an isolated and unknown territory.
Mack's indomitable spirit in going through all these travails to achieve his dream of being a free man is a wondrous journey that unfolds through the pages of  'A Place called Freedom.' The easy flow of narration is fantastic.
How Follet manages to keep those creative juices flowing in book after book is surely awe-inspiring.