Monday, January 21, 2008

Bitter Sweets

The striking red Sari on the cover of the book caught my eye as I was checking out yet another set of Childrens Books at my local library. Having given up the right to wander anywhere away from the Kids Section since my daughter turned 2, I seized this oppurtunity and picked up the book hoping that the contents will be as appealing as the cover.

The men are the victims in Roopa Farooki's novel "Bitter Sweets". People come and go with disturbing speed and their stay within the pages tend to be abrupt and unconvincing. The book spans across 3 generations of characters each with his/her own quota of vague secrets . However the reader aka me in this case, is left with a vague feeling of mistrust since one really does not get the chance to know any of the characters in depth.

Story starts with Henna's father who has been more or less blamed for the errors made by all following descendents in the family tree. But that is the only time one hears about him - although he is the lone male species who has not been victimised in this story. So Henna and Ricky unites and Shona is born, Shona and Parvez unites and Omar and Sharif are born. Omar and Jim, Sharif and Candida unites respectively. And then there is Verity, Dermont, Uncle Aziz, Mother Karim all hovering around these many main characters.

To sum it all, a book with an interesting story (After all I did read it in 3 days which says much when you have a 4 month and a 4 year old) but a ghastly habit of jumping from people to people, places to happenings, starting one thing without finishing another gives the reader a frustrating feeling of incompleteness. Most disconcerting is the underlying disturbing belief of the novel that we will always repeat the mistakes that our parents did, that our individual sense of morality is completely and irrevocably dependent on that of our parents even if we are repulsed by the same values.

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