Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Book Review : Bitter Sweets by Roopa Farooki

Henna Rub is a precocious teenager whose wheeler-dealer father never misses a business opportunity and whose sumptuous Calcutta marriage to wealthy romantic Ricky-Rashid Karim is achieved by an audacious network of lies. Ricky will learn the truth about his seductive bride, but the way is already paved for a future of double lives and deception--family traits that will filter naturally through the generations, forming an instinctive and unspoken tradition. Even as a child, their daughter Shona, herself conceived on a lie and born in a liar's house, finds telling fibs as easy as ABC. But years later, living above a sweatshop in South London's Tooting Bec, it is Shona who is forced to discover unspeakable truths about her loved ones and come to terms with what superficially holds her family together--and also keeps them apart--across geographical, emotional and cultural distance.

The writing is light and breezy and keeps you engaged. I loved the word play and the images she evoked with her writing. But I just couldn't relate or connect with the lead character Shona, or her father Ricky. The decisions Ricky and Shona make seem more like mid-life crisis mistakes with a tragedy waiting to happen in its aftermath. As much as i could understand couples getting estranged after babies, I felt Shona & Parvez fell out of love too soon and too easily. The messy situation that crops up eventually because of all the lies did finally make the plot interesting but the big revelation at the end felt more like a convenient way out of it than anything else. For all the emotion in the book that was so vividly depicted I still can't come to terms with that 'happy' ending.

Read it but don't be surprised if you've forgotten all about it right after.

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