A Flight of Pigeons

A Flight of Pigeons
Image source: Google

Rating: 4.4/5

Author: Ruskin Bond

Hardcover: 135 pages

Publisher: Penguin India

Publication Date: 1978 (original), 2007 (latest edition)

Language: English

Genre: Historical fiction

ISBN-10: 9780143063223

ISBN-13: 978-0143063223

ASIN: 0143063227

Cost: Rs. 109.24 (Kindle edition)


Set in Shahjahanpur during the revolt of 1857, A Flight of Pigeons is Ruskin Bond’s classic novella about the twists of fate, history and the human heart. When Ruth Labadoor’s father, a clerk in the British magistrate’s office, is killed in an attack by sepoys, her family seeks refuge with their trusted companion, Lala Ramjimal. From here they eventually hope to escape to their relatives in Bareilly. But their plans go awry when Javed Khan, a fiery Pathan opposed to the British, abducts Ruth and her mother and takes them to his haveli.

To their surprise, it is not hate that impels him in this time of war, but an almost crippling passion for Ruth. It will be months before the fall of Delhi to British troops brings them freedom—from fear, bafflement and despair, not only their own but also Javed Khan’s.

Based on true events, A Flight of Pigeons is a haunting story, rich in detail and drama, told with simplicity and deep humanity.


“Love wins over and over again, against every prejudice.”

Yes, this is the message what the book wants to deliver. The book is based on real historical incidents. It highlights the cross-cultural and political context going on at the year of ‘Rebellion of 1857’.

It narrates the story of events of adventure in the life of Ruth Labadoor and her family. The story focuses on the difficult times that northern and central India during the 1857 rebellion faced while fighting against the British. Through the character of Ruth Labadoor and her family, Bond tries to portrays the difficulties of this British family especially when Ruth becomes an orphan and helpless due to extreme situations.

The author claims that the theme of the novella is a true story. In the section in the book named ‘Notes’, several news items are quoted from late nineteenth century to validate this claim. Bond takes us back and shows us the time when humanity was at stake, homes were burnt, innocent people were killed.

But, as said earlier ‘Love’ and ‘Friendship’ wins over every prejudice, every racism, every form of hate.

The author also exposes a very considerable prejudice people have against the people of the Eastern world. People have certain racist opinions about Hindus and Muslims.

The novel and it’s characters are very unpredictable and that is what hooks the readers to the book till the last.


  • This book was adapted into a film in 1978 called ‘Junoon’ by Shyam Benegal , starring Shashi Kapoor, his wife Jennifer Kendall, and Nafisa Ali.

About the Author:

Ruskin Bond was born in Kasauli in 1934. He grew up in Jamnagar, Dehradun and Shimla, worked briefly in Jersey, London and Delhi, and moved to Mussoorie in the early 1960s to write full time. One of India’s best loved and most popular authors, Ruskin Bond has written over a hundred books of fiction, non-fiction and poetry, including the best-selling classics Room on the Roof (winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize), A Flight of Pigeons, The Blue Umbrella, Time Stops at Shamli, Night Train at Deoli, Our Trees Still Grow in Dehra (winner of the Sahitya Akademi Award) and Rain in the Mountains. He was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 1999 and the Padma Bhushan in 2014.