The title refers to the balance between hope and despair and explores the lives of four people in India from 1975. Three of these four experience a great deal of tragedy prior to the book starting and after meeting these people in the opening pages we are then given each of their histories in the early part of the book.
The middle part of the book explores the relationships between these four people. Given that they come from different backgrounds and lifestyles, there is a lot of tension initially yet circumstances conspire to enable them to bridge the gap and become good friends. For me this was the highlight of the book: that these four vast differently people could live and work harmoniously together, enjoying each other’s company.
In the latter part of the book the characters again face various tragedies. The characters have different levels of resilience when confronted with these challenges and have the choice to hope or to despair.
A fine balance is well written but is a very long story and reading so many tragedies is somewhat overwhelming. The political corruption and injustice in so many of the events is distressing. Mostly though the story is a testimony to people’s resilience yet even so, one of the four does cave into despair.