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Prison & Chocolate Cake – Book Review

Nayantara Sahgal belongs to the elite Kashmiri Pandit family of the Nehrus, she being the niece of Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru. Born in the British Raj, she along with her sisters remained away from the country for most part of their childhood so as to evade the Swaraj movement. But she always picked up the inside stories which others did not have access to. The book is about a true narration of her experience of belonging to the Nehru family, the rebellion against the British and how it affected her and her family. The title comes from the incident, when her grandfather Pandit Motilal Nehru was imprisoned for Satyagraha and her grandmother, instead of being disappointed called for celebration saying “So we shall have chocolate cake for tea”.

Nayantara Sahgal

The book begins with the memoirs of her childhood, her life in the ‘Anand Bhawan’ in Allahabad, shared with her uncle Nehru and their deep bonding. The book reveals Pandit Nehru as a friendly natured man and his love for Nayantara. It portrays the relationship she shares with her sisters Rita and Chandralekha, her travels, her education in the U.S., how people abroad could not locate India even on a map and British India. It is a true and simple account of her experiences, some amusing, some despairing, some lovely, some bold; the very essence of belonging to the first family.


The anecdotes are pleasing, some of them being completely hilarious; Nehru calling Mrs. Hopewell Mrs. Hopeless, the unspoken rule that no one will cry when a family member gets arrested and many more. All this takes us right back to the British India setting where life was ‘Satyagraha’ and nothing was more important. The book ends on the tragic note of the assassination of Gandhi Ji and how Nehru completely submits himself to this fact. Sarojini Naidu’s delightfully optimistic remark that Bapu had died in the most appropriate way, as nothing less of this would be justifiable. It was better that he died the way he did, instead of succumbing to old age or indigestion!


The narration is lucid, simple yet pleasant and enlightening as it is written by an insider. It is a heart-warming narration of the life of the Satyagrahis, their pride, their strength and it surely has an impact on us as humans and superlatively as Indians.

Here’s the link to purchase the book from Amazon.





Review Written By: Aishwarya Kaul

A typical engineer, worked in a data analytics company for a year and currently work for a consulting firm, hence she pays very little attention to her passions. But one odd day realization struck her and she started chasing her favorite things to do a year ago-designing, music and writing!

She is a latecomer in the land of GoT but she is hooked. She usually while away free time looking at quick two-minute recipes (Yes! She is a foodie!), romcoms, listening to her favorite tunes or writing just about anything. Read her reviews for an unbiased and a little sarcastic opinion on a number of books/apps/foods etc.

Nitin S. View All

An IT Engineer working as a Consultant in one of the big four firms, Ernst and Young. Completed his executive MBA in general management from the Indian School of Business (ISB). Gadgets, Superheroes and Automobiles give me that kick which is required to sustain this monotonous corporate life. I am a huge fan of classic movies, geeky TV shows and random surfing of a website that was launched 12 years ago in 2005, Youtube!

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