The Ground Beneath Her Feet, by Salman Rushdie
Henry Holt and Company, Inc., 1999
The Ground Beneath Her Feet is an engaging epic novel that follows the lives of three friends: Vina Aspara, Ormus Cama, and Umeed Merchant (who goes by the name Rai).  The story is narrated by Rai, who, quite appropriately, is a photographer.  Rai gives the perspective to his own life that only someone with the ability to step back and "see the whole picture" (even while in the midst of it) can give.

Vina and Ormus are tragic lovers who form what becomes one of the most influential bands of all time: VTO.  Their music (as well as their love for each other) inspires multiple generations of fans.  In his detailing of the history of rock and roll in America, and VTO's place in that history, Rushdie changes the names of bands and musicians to "fictionalize" his tale, but the personalities are there - for instance, you can't help but know when he's describing Elvis Presley.

Rushdie does a wonderful job of creating interesting characters.  No one seems "incidental" to the story.  Each character is given depth and it is through his attention to each and every one of his characters that we can see Rushdie's love of his story.

The novel explores such themes as the nature of sacrifice for love and art, the price paid for total devotion to one's artistic vision, as well as the idea of inspiration and the many forms the muse can take.

The Ground Beneath Her Feet is truly a work of art and a labor of love by Rushdie.  As long as you forgive his beating to death the various permutations of the title as strewn throughout, you will find this to be an extremely rewarding read.

Also by Rushdie:  Luka and the Fire of Life;The Enchantress of Florence; Grimus; Midnight's Children; Shalimar the Clown; Shame; Fury; The Satanic Verses; Haroun and the Sea of Stories (ages 9-12); East, West: Stories; The Moor's Last Sigh; The Jaguar Smile: A Nicaraguan Journey; The Courter, Defender of the Faith; Step Across this Line: Collected Non-Fiction, 1992-2002; Conversations with Salman Rushdie; and Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism, 1981-1991.


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