Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Review of 'She Loves Me, He Loves Me Not', author Zeenat Mahal

She didn’t seem to mind looking at him. She didn’t even avoid looking at his face , or cringe in revulsion. If he didn’t know better, he could almost forget his own grotesque reality, the way she looked at him.

Zeenat. She Loves Me, He Loves Me Not (Kindle Locations 937-939). 

                   Life has not dealt Zoella an easy hand but she accepts what comes her way with a smile and tries to make the most of it. Fardeen on the other hand is the original golden boy, born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Rich, successful, more attractive than what is good for him he has the world at his feet. Zoella who is a good friend of his sister Swaba, has fairly grown up in their house and knows she is just one among his legion of admirers but Fardeen has eyes only for his fiancée Neha.

                  This bubble bursts when Fardeen meets with an accident and is badly disfigured. Shunned by his fiancée, a bitter Fardeen locks himself away from the world convinced he is good for no one and not ready to even try.  A series of events cause them to be married: a marriage Zoella knows is purely of convenience and one that Fardeen views with utter disdain. Is this how Zoella’s life is destined to play out , tied to an embittered , cruel man whose only aim in life seems to be to cause as much pain to everyone around him as he is going through himself?

                  Zeenat Mahal excels in her descriptions, be it kite flying on the roof tops of Lahore, or the hustle and bustle of a wedding house or other little vignettes through the story. She subtly emphasizes and brings out the nuances of social dynamics within a family and between couples. I absolutely loved the character of Fardeen. He was marred and broken and at the end so very real, that he fairly jumped off the pages at you. I did not find the same thing happening with Zoella. She seemed too much of a martyr and too one dimensional for me to really like or understand her.  This I found to be a weak point in the book from my perspective. This was saved by the ebb and flow of the dialogue between the two main characters which was funny, witty, poignant and romantic.

                   I would give it four stars as it’s got a good plot that picks you up and takes you with it keeping you interested throughout.

Monday, 16 February 2015

50 Shades to go...

                     One of the most awaited films in recent times has hit the screens and what a grand opening it has been. It is amazing what all they have riding on the coat tails of this movie. Lingerie, I understand but LEGO figures ????? Either 'super kinky' or 'super lost the message there'.

                     The curiousity it has generated is unbelievable; so like it or hate it the figures tell us it has people thronging to the theatres.

81 million and counting

I haven't seen the movie itself as yet but have read the book and besides the curiosity factor that it hit upon big time by bringing BS&M out of the shadows and legatimising it in its own way, it really had nothing at all going for it. Two days later I had zero recall of it beside the names of the main characters and the Red Room.

Personally I do not even put down the super success of the book singularly to the mainstream being intrigued about a previously taboo and shadowy subject . We have had other books on erotica which are much better written, like ones from Sylvia Day and Cherise Sinclair etc but none have come close to the hysteria that FSOG has whipped up.

I think it had an amazing advertising campaign that was aimed solely at women's sexuality. 'Mummy Porn'. It said it was okay for a woman to fantasize and read erotica. That was what it brought out of the closet.

Statistics support me, majority of the people watching the movie are women. Groups of female buddies are hitting the theatres together to sit back and feel naughty and daring. It is as much about Grey as it is about Anastasia and about taking a hereto 'taboo' subject and being able to talk about it and make jokes about. It is an urban, educated phenomenon; women in deeply unequal societies are hardly likely to find it interesting or intriguing. It is to put it simply... a chance for female bonding

So despite all the debate on the psychological impact on women, despite what men are saying about the movie ( most are not saying too much ), despite what abuse campaigners have to say and other groups protesting on grounds of gender and religion etc, despite it not being a well written book and by all accounts even a very good movie...FIFTY SHADES is a watershed that will define how we view and talk about erotica in the future. Men have always had their magazines to show each other and chuckle over. Women now have something too.

Twenty three years earlier Sharon Stone uncrossed her legs in 'Basic Instinct' to make the men jump; today Mr Grey has used cable ties and a crop to make the women think and talk about their 'inner goddess' and share a laugh or two. Go figure that out Mr Grey.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Review of Matches Made in Heaven authored by Sundari Venkatraman

Sundari is an established best selling Indian romance author with four novels to her credit already, however this is her first collection of short stories. She covers a vast vista in this book of 13 short stories: we travel from Patna to Delhi to Rajasthan to name just a few places and we even get a taste of Mythology.

She has shown much versatility in changing the narrator throughout her book. Sometimes it is told from the girl’s point of view, sometimes from the boys and we even have a friend telling us a story. Sundari’s stories are set in Indian culture and this is supported by the recurring theme of pressure from the parents to get married and the wont to set up arranged matches. However then Ms Venkatraman breaks the mould of traditional India, as all her heroines have voices and they want to use it. It doesn’t matter if the story is set in rural India or in New York most of the heroines are feisty ladies who know what they want and will not bow willingly to pressure. If they are not that in the beginning, they become that. Kudos to Sundari for this.

The good thing about an anthology is that even though you have some stories you like better than others, there is usually something in it for everyone. Sundari has covered all the bases with this book and I did enjoy reading it. It is interesting to see her journey as an author through this collection which I am sure has been written over a period of time in her life. Some of them displaying more complexity and subtlety in their narration and plot than others; for example ‘Pappa’s Girl’ and ‘Shweta Ka Swayamvar’ vs.  ‘An Arranged Match’ or ‘Groomnapped’.

Two points that struck me were: number one, the female characters were so much more interesting than the male characters and they were the ones that carried the stories. The male characters were nice but then that is it; they lacked the layers to make them attention-grabbing. It would have been nice to have a thoroughly fascinating male lead thrown in as well in one of the stories. The bad boy, which the heroine falls in love with.  Secondly I know through her other books that Sundari has a remarkable gift of writing poignancy and I would have liked at least one to have such an ending but that is my personal liking and not a reflection on her writing.

This book is definitely worth buying so you can sneak in a short story here and there, whenever you can grab five minutes to read.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Review of Paulo Coelho's 'Adultery'.

Definitely not what I expected.

                   Linda is a woman on a mission to discover herself or rather to run away from a destructive apathy that is threatening to consume her. Rich and successful, with a loving family she seems to have it all and yet she feels these are the very things that make her question her life and mire her down. She is restless and full of turmoil as she looks for answers to this feeling of darkness and desolation and it takes her down a path of risk and adultery. 

                 A path she treads, to look for alleviation from her current mind set by having an affair with an old friend.  At the side there is the on-going tableau of her relationship with her husband, the relationship of Jacob with his wife, and her own private angst which is her driving force behind the whole book as well as a peek at what life in Geneva and upper class Swiss society is  about.

               For me the saving grace of the book was the little quotes that peppered the story.
Some were questioning, some ironical, some matter of fact but most were just pure homespun philosophy and very private and personal thoughts

               Regarding the story itself: what an amazing story this could have been. However when I read this book my first thought was; did Paulo Coelho write this?  It is so different from all his other works, not only in style but also in approach and content: which can be good but unfortunately wasn’t so in this case.

             This was a man writing about a personal journey a woman takes and it came across as precisely that. He failed to get into her head and understand her.  I felt it lacked emotion, lacked a buildup, lacked a good plot and was all over the place. The characters were shallow and some of the outcomes were so trite I felt it was downright patronizing to the reader.  At the end, I just had one thought …”really?"