Category Archives: Romance

The Heavens by Sandra Newman

The Heavens by Sandra Newman Title: The Heavens
Author: Sandra Newman
Publisher: Grove Press
ISBN: 978-0802129024
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 272
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 stars

The Heavens is the kind of book that gets under your skin only if you allow it to. In the sense that you have to be prepared for it, read it slowly, take in what Newman has to offer, and then be enthralled by its worlds, characters, and their lives. I don’t even know how to categorize this book – what does one call it? Historical fiction? Contemporary? Fantasy? Come to think of it, I shall not call it anything but a novel that will charm, beguile, and leave you a little bit breathless.

I hadn’t realized Sandra Newman had written more books before reading this one. So, long story short: The Heavens is about the power of dreams and what they can do to your world. It is the year 2000. Ben (Debendranath – yes, read the book to find out more) meets Kate and they fall in love. Kate loves love. Ben loves Kate.

Then there is the question of Kate’s dreams that she’s been having since childhood. The dreams where she lives a second life as Emilia – the mistress of a nobleman in Elizabethan England. But what happens when dreams impact reality? Kate begins to understand that her actions in her dreams alter her reality on waking up. Incidents that she doesn’t remember anymore, people she hasn’t heard of, neighbourhoods that have sprung up on their own, and something more is at play which she has to stop, or so she thinks.

In all of this is Ben – always wondering what’s going on with his partner. From a family with its own demons, all he wants is a simple life, and tries very hard to understand Kate and her second life as Emilia. And but of course you have to read the book to find out what happens next – what occurs and what doesn’t. In all of this, Newman introduces their friends – Sabine – free-spirited, gossipy, and absolutely silly (at least to me), Oksana (you just have to read about her), Martin, and José to name a few. The reason I speak of them is they are as integral to the story as Ben and Kate.

Newman’s writing reminded me of Alain de Botton’s style to begin with, till I got used to her voice and it was only her writing that mattered. Her prose strikes you in so many places – the struggle of Kate and whether or not she is losing her mind. Newman makes you believe in both worlds equally – in both characters – Kate and Emilia. Not for once did they strike me as the same person, till of course dreams and reality merged.

There is also a surprise element of who she meets in the year of the plague in England. The technicalities of time travel are spot-on – they never bog you down as a reader. In fact, you want to know more about that era and what transpired. What I loved the most is that Newman gets to the point. There is brevity in its 272 pages and no rambling at all.

The Heavens could also not be for all. It worked for me on several levels – of love, friendship, dreams, and what may come in the future. But it may not work for you if you are the sort of reader who wants to find meaning and purpose in everything you read. Sandra Newman is one author whose works I will be devouring a lot more.

 

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The Wedding Photographer by Sakshama Puri Dhariwal

The Wedding Photographer by Sakshama Puri Dhariwal Title: The Wedding Photographer
Author: Sakshama Puri Dhariwal
Publisher: Penguin Books
ISBN: 978-0143426264
Genre: Indian Writing, Indian fiction
Pages: 256
Source: Publisher
Rating: 3.5 stars

Now I am a fan of good comic writing (because it is so rare and far and few in-between) and when I come across something really nice, then I cannot help but speak about it. Even if it is a little cheesy and quite predictable this was the case in most places in Sakshama Puri Dhariwal’s book “The Wedding Photographer”. Why did I like it then?

I liked it for various reasons. The prose is racy, cracking with wit and does not lose its steam at any point. It becomes predictable yes, it is also jarring sometimes (given the mélange of characters and the setting – a big fat Punjabi wedding – what do you then expect?) but all said and done it is funny, contemporary and relatable more than anything else.

The plot is simple: A journalist and a moonlighting wedding photographer Risha Kohli meets the young, handsome real estate dynamic tycoon Arjun Khanna on a seventeen-hour long flight and sparks fly. The obvious happens – Risha is the photographer for Arjun’s sister’s wedding and they meet some more over the course of the lavish three-day wedding. There is some misunderstanding, some witty banter, quirky characters that walk in and walk out (I love the Nani – she stays throughout the book and I absolutely love her candid whisky-drinking nature), the much-needed drama and all’s well that ends well.

Now the writing like I said is breezy and it definitely is one of those long airplane journey reads, but somehow to me, the predictability of the plot and the fact that it was written just so it could be made into a movie, overshadowed everything else. I mean the book is crying out loud to be picked up by Yash Chopra Films or Dharma Productions (or at least that’s what it seems to me). I like the humour. I like the wit. I like Risha and I absolutely want to meet someone like Arjun but that’s about it. You most certainly cannot reread it (I guess even the author knows it) but I sure do recommend it as a one-time fun read.

There’s something about you by Yashodhara Lal

Cover Artwork Title: There’s Something About You
Author: Yashodhara Lal
Publisher: Harper Collins
ISBN: 9789351771999
Genre: Romance, Fiction
Pages: 268
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

Fiction is definitely more interesting when you have someone to relate to in the book. Reading Yashodhara Lal’s “There’s something about you” reminded me of the fact that I could still relate to some characters while reading a book. In this case, it was the protagonist Trish, though my life is not as bad, but most aspects I could get. I will get to the story later, but don’t you think of characters time and again after you are done with a book? Don’t they stay with you? When that happens I feel so weird and yet it feels like I have reached home. Now to the book.

“There’s something about you” by Yashodhara Lal is about Trish. She is a twenty-eight year old woman. She is overweight, snarky and single. She is also now jobless. Sahil on the other hand is your almost perfect, thirty-five year old geek who wants her. Trish does not want anyone in her life. Sahil will not give up that easy. That’s when the fun begins and the rollercoaster ride called life has just begun for Trish. Okay so this is the story. It may seem this simple, however it is not. Also, let me add at this point that I enjoyed this book a lot.

The book is a light read. At the same time it speaks of modern relationships and love so accurately that you can almost read your life as you turn the pages or at least some incidents from it. The story is fast-paced and what I liked is that the secondary characters have as much a big role to play as Trish and Sahil.

I normally do not read breezy or so called chick-lit fiction but trust me this book is not that. If anything, then to me it falls in the genre of literary romance and that is a great relief from what gets churned out these days. I would recommend this book to you for a lazy monsoon read and before you know it you would be done with the read and a very satisfying one at that.

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Paper Towns by John Green

Paper Towns by John Green Title: Paper Towns
Author: John Green
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
ISBN: 9781408857144
Genre: Young Adult, Teen Romance
Pages: 320
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

At one point, I thought that John Green could not write what he did when he wrote, “The Fault in Our Stars” or at least when I read it, I felt that way. Till I picked up, “Paper Towns” (which was published way before TFIOS) and gave it a read.

“Paper Towns” is a unique book. It is different (I hate using that word, but hey, it just somehow fits). It is special. It is about life and somehow Green manages to infuse humour in all his books (which to me is the best part of it all – saying the toughest life situations, with a pinch of salt and sugar). “Paper Towns” is bittersweet. It is everything perhaps you do not want to happen to you and yet you want it all. It has that effect on you.

Margo Roth Spiegelman is what every girl in school wants to be and every boy wants to be with. Quentin Jacobsen is her next-door neighbour who is in love with her, since he can tell. They are both at school together and Margo is known for her wild ways – to run from home and come back later, to do things that no one would expect her to do and somehow with her all is forgiven. And one night she plans one of her adventures and invites Quentin to be a part of it – it is revenge and they play it well. The next day Margo disappears and the entire school, her family and Q are left wondering, as to what happened.

She in turn has left clues for Q – so she could be found or maybe not, and this is where the story actually begins. This is the plot of “Paper Towns” in short. The writing is just what John Green is used to doing – breaking your heart and making you smile at the same time. There are levels and trails that are magnificently brought out in the writing, which perhaps makes it more than just a teenage romance. For everyone out there, who has read The Fault in Our Stars, you must read Paper Towns. You will love it more. Just like me.

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Book Review: Delicacy by David Foenkinos

Delicacy by David Foenkinos Title: Delicacy
Author: David Foenkinos
Publisher: Bloomsbury
ISBN: 9781408827574
Genre: Literary Fiction, Romance, Humour
Pages: 250
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

Once in a while, you chance upon a book, that you just have lying on your shelf and intend reading someday. However, that someday takes a while and when you do read it; you begin to realize that you wasted a lot of time, waiting for that someday. “Delicacy” by David Foenkinos had that impact on me. I kept wondering, why had I missed out on this when I first bought it? Why did I wait for two years to read this book? And all it took me was a six hour bus ride to finish it and come out of the reverie with a big fat grin on my face.

“Delicacy” by David Foenkinos is a charming little book. It is full of joy, happiness; comic moments and at the same time, there is sadness as well. Natalie is a woman who has it all. A great lover, who in turn becomes her husband. A successful job. A life which is fulfilled – more or less and there is nothing she could need or want. Till her life falls apart in one minute, or rather on a fateful Sunday, when the love of her life gets run over by a car and nothing makes sense anymore. And then just like that, life changes again and Natalie sees herself falling for the most unusual man ever. The setting I must mention is the city of romance, the capital of love, Paris. Paris is almost another character in the book – all pervasive and right there, sometimes mocking and sometimes encouraging love, the way it should be.

What I loved about the book was the way it is written but of course. The chapters are short (which I love) and there is no melodrama. It is as real as it could be. There is office romance. There is life going on as usual after the loss of a loved one. There is also the knowing that life may not be the same, but it will change for the better, if you want it to. The other guy – Markus is clumsy and doesn’t know how a woman like Natalie could love him. He may not be her knight in shining armour and yet Foenkinos writing makes him one.

The book speaks of social norms and breaks all of them in one single long sweep. I am not one for romantic books and yet Delicacy is romantic and not so, if you know what I mean. There is a lot of soul to the book. There were times I found myself weeping and with the next turn of the page, I was smiling.

“Delicacy” is maybe one of those rare books that truly come to you when you really want to read something like this. You cannot read it when you wish to. You perhaps have to wait it out, like I did. There will always be such books and the good part is that there will always be patient readers, waiting to be enthralled.

You can watch the trailer of the move here starring Audrey Tautou, one of my favourites. This should also lead you to read this wonderful book.

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