Capturing an India in transition mode, facing the challenge of governance after independence, while still sore from the wounds of partition, seems like child's play for Nayantara Sahgal. This Time of Morning is an unforgettable snapshot of Delhi and the people, young and old, who inhabit it.
There are several characters in the book which makes it initially confusing and a bit of an overload. But by the time you warm up to it you're in for a rewarding read. The more characters there are, the more view-points Sahgal presents about India post 1947, the changes in society, the struggle for identity and of course, politics.
Sahgal examines politics, life, bureaucracy and political situations with deceptive simplicity. She's almost always spot-on analyzing the struggles of revolutionaries who suddenly find themselves as politicians, countering a corrupt set of individuals who play dirty. She captures and brings to life the Gandhian struggle for independence with as much ease as she talks about the morally corrupt who were always there in the scene in the Congress, but became more prominent taking power after 1947.
The characters go into flashback mode quite a lot and if these flashbacks had been demarcated separately it would have been so much clearer. Then of course, there is the problem you face when there are too many characters: the one you thought was the protagonist is actually not. In fact, there is no single protagonist in this book, which is quite a good thing actually. Also, there is a feeling that some characters got more book space than the others.
But all these flaws are negligible in view of this magnificent portrayal of Delhi after independence, that will stay with you long after you're done reading the book. Nayantara Sahgal is an immensely quotable writer, who is a joy to read.