The summary of the famous work- Susanna’s Seven Husbands- of Ruskin Bond is one of the classics. Written originally as a short story, this captivating piece of fiction was soon extended into a novella and went on to touch the hearts of many. The story is considered one of the best works of the renowned Ruskin Bond and revolves around the mysterious and interesting deaths of all seven husbands of the protagonist- Susanna. Upon realizing the potential, the short story turned into a novella was later converted into a script, and was adapted into a Bollywood movie named 7 Khoon Maaf.
Being a work of fiction, Susanna’s Seven Husbands has been great at holding the readers’ attention which suggests the well-craftiness of the story. The story revolves around Susanna, a woman admired for her looks and wealth, and includes a long trail of seven husbands who she fell in love with. There are many characters who have played crucial roles in the story and held it together in a piece.
Let’s dive deeper into the intricacies of Susanna’s life and get to know about the various twists and turns that she dealt with in her life.
The Early Life of Susanna
The story starts by describing the early days of Susanna’s life where she has been portrayed as a child who is being raised by her father after her mother’s demise. Naturally, the entire estate, its treasure, and wealth are all passed down to her. Susanna was a woman of beauty and poured out charm and mystery for all to wonder.
Coming from Dutch and East Indian descent, Susanna is the ultimate diamond for all to want. The men and locals, always intrigued by her looks and lineage, continued to wish for her presence in their lives. The novella has been presented from the point of view of the narrator and begins with the narrator’s curiosity to know more about the mansion and tomb of Lady Susanna who was known for having married seven times.
As the story unfolds, Susanna is presented as a woman who is blessed with many bounties. Her life is lavish and she is considered the enigma of charm and beauty for everything she has inherited from her parents. In search of true love, Susanna sets out to find her true love and ends up marrying seven men. These men ranged from the city’s magistrate to a drunkard who was mesmerized by Susanna’s existence. The entire ordeal or the fate of all of these husbands was an untimely death, mostly within a year of their matrimony.
As the story progresses, the various characters come to light but the mysterious deaths of Susanna’s husbands remain a question. The locals came up with rumors and assumptions, believing that Susanna killed the husbands but no one could ever really prove it. In the end, Susanna devotes her life to Jesus and becomes a nun where she loves her last, seventh husband who was already long gone.
Characters of the Novella
1. Susanna Anna Maria Johannes: The protagonist of the novel is a pretty, young woman who is all set to search for love. Blessed with great wealth and alluring looks, Susanna is the main character of the story. Starting from her childhood, she has been wanted and looked at as a prized possession and that brought to her the attention of many locals. Susanna marries seven times during her life and was famous for her wide-ranged choices who all eventually died soon after their marriage. Survived by her staff, Susanna’s life is full of secrets and mysteries that left her husbands questioning things. After having survived seven marriages and losing all her husbands, Susanna also dies after living a long life. She was eventually buried in her mansion where her tomb resided for years to come.
2. Arun: After Susanna, Arun plays a pivotal role in the story. There was a massive age gap between Susanna and him which was solely the reason he was not one of her husbands. Arun grew up living near Susanna’s house and they developed a close-knit bond that was often overruled with jealousy. He was ten years younger than Susanna in the story and was introduced in the novella when he was stealing guavas from Susanna’s garden.
3. Maggi, Shah Rukh, and Goonga: The people who worked in Susanna’s mansion included Shah Rukh, Maggi, and Goonga who formed the most trusted staff in Susanna’s mansion. Maggi was with Susanna since her childhood and was her personal help throughout the story. Goonga is a deaf and mute jockey who also worked for Susanna. Lastly, the gardener’s name is Shah Rukh. He has maintained the mansion’s gardens ever since and goes on to show the estate to Arun.
4. Naushad: He is a furniture maker in the city and his father was responsible for supplying it to the people in Susanna’s mansion. Naushad acquaints the narrator about the tomb of Susanna and explains to her the various love scandals of the lady. Naushad had his opinions based primarily on what he from people in the city and his own father. He believed that Susanna killed her husbands and got rid of them.
5. Major Hari Mehta: The major was one of the seven husbands of Susanna who has also been described at length in the novella. He met Susanna at a library where they both found each other worth pursuing. After getting married, they went on their honeymoon in Mussoorie and Susanna took care of all the expenses. Eventually, his true colors came out and he turned into an egoistic, jealous husband. Later, the major is shown to have become an alcoholic who also took interest in hunting although he was not as good at it as Susanna.
The Plot of the Novella
Each story has a plot that has the potential to make or break the story. Here, the writer, Ruskin Bond, has beautifully managed to maintain a balance between all aspects and has given the story a dark, thrilling aspect.
The plot involves many events happening in the life of the protagonist. Having lost her mother at a young age, Susanna was looked after by her father who ended up teaching her hunting, horse riding, and racing. Susanna’s interests also included going to the Wheelers Club which she visited often. Susanna borrowed books from the club’s library where she first met one of her many husbands, Major Mehta.
Susanna lived in a massive house surrounded by gardens and beautiful landscapes. After her parents’ death, she was looked after by her staff who obeyed her orders and blindly followed her commands. There were many rooms and places in her mansion that could be accessed only by the staff or herself. Being an epitome of beauty, Susanna was the talk of the town and had no trouble getting attention from suitors.
She ended up getting married to the major who was around ten years older than her and eventually, ended up becoming toxic. Her marriage with the major started out with romance but later became controlling and unbearable. The major got her to open joint accounts with her money and started controlling all her actions and speeches. Owing to his addiction to alcohol and a not-so-great ability to hunt, the major ended up dying and left Susanna looking for love again. The absence of a fatherly figure in her life prompted Susanna to have a dominating effect on the men in her life.
The story revolves around many who played a significant role in her life and including names like Arun, Naushad, Maggi, etc. Susanna continued to seek adventure and newness and that could have possibly been the reason for her husbands’ untimely passing away.
Some other chapters showcase the other husbands, one of whom was obsessed with his cellphone. In another chapter, the husband who was a doctor was bitten by a snake, the brigands killed the magistrate, and the drunkard husband died of overconsumption. All this made Susanna appear to be smooth with her operations as no evidence could ever be found for all the deaths. It was also understood by many that she got them killed as they were only after the money she has inherited after her father’s death. This gave Susanna’s character an evil, cruel nature that could never be explained clearly.
Towards the end of the story, a white man has been introduced. This man entered the mansion, which was now Susanna’s tomb, seeking a treasure that was hidden there. However, his search went in vain as he never got out and was suspected to have been killed by Susanna’s ghost and the snakes. The ghost of Susanna was believed to stop by the mansion in a horse carriage where she talked to strangers.
The story is rich and engrossing with many details that throw light on different aspects of Susanna’s life. The classic literary work of Ruskin Bond has a huge audience who was kept on their toes till the very end. Susanna’s seven husbands summary is a great way to catch up on all the major life events and the plot of the story.
About Ruskin Bond
Ruskin Bond is one of the most famous authors of children’s books. An iconic Indian writer, his extremely enjoyable style of writing has made books written by Ruskin Bond a huge hit all across the world. Most of the Ruskin Bond’s books are influenced by his life spent in the hill stations of India, especially his experiences while living in Dehradun. Having experimented with many different genres, Ruskin Bond books for kids will always remain his favorite writing style.