Thursday, September 23, 2010

Book Review: The Darkness Of Disaster

Perfect Eight
                                                         by Reema Moudgil
                                                       Tranquebar Press
                                            Pages: 252
                                                Price: Rs 200
A tale of passionate, ominous love and loss that fails to engage

A dark romance that meanders through the plains of separation and death; the very dark cover of Perfect Eight echoes with the first person account of the very dark world of the protagonist.  Ira is scarred – by the inate knowledge of impending doom and never feels that she belongs anywhere. She only finds solace in Annaville, a beautiful tea estate in Assam, where her aunt lives. But even that sanctuary becomes tainted because of her unrequited love for Samir, aunt’s son. 
Ira’s fate e is closely entwined with her mother’s’ and is like a roller-coaster ride; more lows than highs.  Their lives see brief moments of happiness which are followed by full-blown tragedies. The death of her father is the turning point of this story – it forces the protagonist to confront the harsh realities of society  being a poor and unmarried women.  Her uncle from Delhi plays the unsuitable match maker and pressures Ira’s mother to consider the same. Faced with the cold knowledge that Samir will not be part of her universe Ira takes the plunge and agrees to the proposal. She chooses to marry Gautum, a sub-editor in a newspaper and move to Bangalore only to discover that she is very much alone in the marriage. Gautum has his own insecurities and appears to be still in love with bureau chief Sarita. Matters come to a head and the protagonist loses her way and attempts suicide  but survives. The survival brings forth a very strong desire to live and experience life. She goes back to her beloved place,  Annaville for a final confrontation with her unrequited love.

The narration of the story is jerky and moves rather rapidly from the tea estate to Noida, Patiala, Assam, Bangalore, and then Ayodhya. The shift is abrupt, sudden and hurries and does leave one with a sense of unreality. Also, the character-building in this novel is weak and the protagonist appears to drift aimlessly making it difficult for the reader to empathsise with her. Overall, Perfect Eight is an eminently forgettable novel.

This review by Anjana Saproo first appeared on Businessworld on 10 Jul 2010

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