The book is basically about three strangers – an Australian photographer Francois ,Arkay a Scottish alcoholic turned Buddhist monk and a Tibetan refugee, Naga who meet in India and subsequently find their lives entwined by destiny.
Written by Australian born Meaghan Delahunt I picked up the book as I always have a fascination to see India through the eyes of an outsider. I also picked up the book for another reason. The Bhopal gas tragedy and the subsequent suffering of the victims has always saddened and angered me. So I figured this book that was supposedly set against the background of the twentieth anniversary Bhopal tragedy might prove to be an interesting read.
Francois, who is drawn to India after she sees the iconic photographs of the dead baby from the gas tragedy travels to Bhopal to travels to Bhopal to rediscover herself and take photographs that are not clichéd .There she meets and falls in doomed love with Arkay who is vainly battling addiction and memories of abuse as well as develops a close friendship with Naga, whose repressed anger caused by losing his family to the disaster stands in contrast with Arkays impulsive and moody temperament. The Red Book is a book where Francois stores photographs that tell of their time together.
What I liked about the book was the short effectiveness of Delahunt’s prose, and though not much else moved me about the book. Bhopal was just a background, a touching point for the characters. Nothing more. I was also not very impressed by the characterization. The three main characters all sounded the same to me. Like three voices of the same person. In the end while the book is mostly a tale of identity, despair, love and the west and East outlooks, it left me quite unmoved and unimpressed.