Friday, October 14, 2016

TATA Litlive! 2016

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'Tis the season of literary festivals all over the country. And another one is coming up closer to home. It is the Seventh Mumbai International Literary Festival, also known as TATA Litlive 2016 in Mumbai. Save your dates from the 17th to the 20th of November. Click here to visit their website for more information.

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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

One Indian Girl

Title: One Indian Girl
Author: Chetan Bhagat
Genre: Fiction, Romance
Pages: 280
Publisher: Rupa Publications India
ISBN-13: 978-8129142146

Rating: 3.8/5

One Indian Girl is the latest book by Chetan Bhagat. I pre ordered it from as the summary spiked enough interest in me and I was certainly curious. Here's what the book is about.

The story begins with a wedding setup in Goa. Radhika Mehta is getting married to Brijesh Gulati and the entire clan from both the bride's and the groom's side has arrived. While Radhika is gearing up for her massive destination wedding, she surprisingly finds her two ex boyfriends, Debu and Neel at the venue, each one wanting to marry her. Debu was her boyfriend in New York, where she had first started her banking career. Radhika's hard work and diligence paid off and she began earning more than what Debu could imagine. Or handle. Due to her career oriented nature, Debu breaks up with her while Radhika is devastated. She tries to win him back but to no avail. She finally decides to transfer to the Hong Kong office of her bank and begin anew.

Enter Neel. The good looking Neel is a partner of the firm at the Hong Kong office and encourages Radhika from the very beginning. He likes her hard working attitude and the fact that she is relentless when it comes to business. Neel is married with two kids but is attracted to Radhika and they end up having an affair. Both are happy but Radhika soon realizes that she cannot move forward with Neel. And when Neel fails to acknowledge his commitment towards her, she is heartbroken, again. She moves to the London office, where after years of persistence from her mother, she agrees for an arranged marriage to Brijesh.

Now, she has three choices. Debu - her first love, Neel - the charmer and Brijesh - the sweet and humble one. Radhika is confused and overwhelmed but finally makes her decision and with that the story comes to an end....or does it?

The book is written in the first person, from Radhika's point of view. It is a quick read, most likely to be a future Bollywood movie. The usual Chetan Bhagat traits can be found here, like a Punjabi wedding, the Indian parents and their typical thought process etc. But it isn't dragging or boring at all. In fact, I like One Indian Girl better than Half Girlfriend. The story is believable. I mean, yeah there are instances where one might go, 'Really? Does that happen in real life?' Or 'That's not how it works in India.' But despite all that, I liked the book.

The story is about feminism, especially among Indians. It showcases the biased and chauvinist society where the woman has to choose between a career or a family, where if a woman earns more than a man, it doesn't go down well with the guy. The protagonist, Radhika's decision at the end reinforces the feeble prospect that women needn't 'settle'. That there is much more to her than just having to be domesticated or branded.

I really like books that break barriers and One Indian Girl is right there. I enjoyed the book and would recommend it, especially to all the men out there. I am not sure how many of you would read it without being judgmental. But do try it if you like something packed with confidence, courage and loads of girl power! 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Closed Casket

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Title: Closed Casket
Author: Sophie Hannah
Genre: Fiction, Murder mystery
Pages: 320
Publisher: William Morrow
ISBN-13: 978-0062458827

Rating: 3.6/5

Closed Casket is the latest Hercule Poirot mystery by Sophie Hannah. I wasn't impressed by the first book by the same author, The Monogram Murders, but had hopes for this one. To the review then, shall we?

Lady Athelinda Playford, a popular children's mystery writer, is hosting a party and Hercule Poirot and Inspector Edward Catchpool are invited. Lady Playford doesn't give any reason for inviting a detective and an inspector to her house but when she makes the announcement of her new will at the dining table, Poirot is confused and his grey cells, agile. Lady Playford has changed her will to leave everything she owns to Joseph Scotcher, her secretary, who has only a few weeks to live. Her children are to get absolutely nothing. The mystery further causes confusion when Joseph is brutally murdered on the very same night. As Poirot and Catchpool set about to solve this particular mystery, a lot is revealed that is both shocking and unexpected.

Sophie Hannah returns with her second Poirot book. I found this one to be far better than her previous Poirot mystery. The plot is interesting and since the book begins with an intriguing mystery, it sets the pace for the rest of the story. An array of interesting characters and ample twists and turns (with a bit of humor thrown in) ensure that the reader is hooked on to it. As the story progresses, one finds that there are smaller stories inside the original one, but those only add to the essence of the story line.

Usually, I don't try to solve Poirot mysteries myself. I eagerly await the climax when Poirot invites everyone and reveals all and I rather enjoy the theatrics of it all. But in this book, there are many instances where one could figure out the who's and why's. Catchpool is not a dull character this time, thankfully. Nevertheless, it is a more sophisticated effort than the previous book.

I would recommend Closed Casket over Monogram Murders any day. A good read.

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