At first blush, this book is the story of the love triangle of Ormus Cama, Umeed ‘Rai’ Merchant and Vina Apsara. Rai is the story’s narrator, which starts at the very seminal moment of Vina’s death. From there, Rai takes us back to the childhood of the three in India. For various reasons, they all leave, and end up in America, where Rai becomes a photographer, and Ormus and Vina become VTO – one of the most famous rock groups in the world.
What’s not apparent at the beginning is that this is a slightly alternate history of the world, where President Kennedy wasn’t assassinated in Dallas, and various famous rock figures are slightly tweaked. It’s an incredibly rich world, and the side characters are half the fun of the story.
I have to admit, part of the reason I wanted to read this book is that I really love the U2 song that was taken from it (also titled ‘The Ground Beneath Her Feet’). I wanted context, and it’s a really neat context, because it’s the song that Ormus writes to Vina after her death. A very important song, because beneath everything else, what this story really is is Orpheus and Eurydice, and more than anything else, it’s Ormus’ search for Vina throughout their lives that drives the story.
I took quite a while to get through this book. I’d initially picked it up on August, and then put it aside for my trip and RIP VIII season. It’s my first Rushdie novel – and his writing is incredibly dense – just full of allusions and images. It’s worth reading, but it definitely took me time to get through it.