Blurb: As kids, we thought grown-ups had so much fun. How we wished we could grow up fast. If only we knew what we were wishing for.
Three pieces of a soul, they'd call themselves soul sisters and this is their journey, a journey through the lives of three best friends who accidentally reunite after a decade long disconnection. A round of startling revelations later, the three realize that life is indeed unpredictable. However, in this world of uncertainty, there is just one thing they can still be sure of their friendship!
With secrets confessed, pain shared, tears shed and troubles discussed, they help find answers to each other's problems, just like old times.
Each has a lesson to learn from the other, a story to tell, a reason to say 'I'm sorry' and a reason to say 'Thank you'. Has destiny brought them together to complete the picture?
Will they succeed in finding the missing pieces?
Can every twist of fate be interpreted in just one way?
Join Sharvari Joshi, Parizaad Sethna and Nandini Mazumdar in a nostalgic journey from girlhood to womanhood. 'Twists of Fate' promises to be a roller coaster ride of emotions that will captivate the reader's heart and leave him pondering on life, fate and all its conspiracies.
First of all, let me praise the author for not choosing the done-to-death mushy romance genre- one that makes me roll my eyes. Let me also congratulate the author for a fantastic debut. Writing a slice-of-life novel instead of the usual Durjoy-Ravinder-Nikita-Sudeep style is a bold choice; and getting the book right the first time signals talent and genuine effort.
TOF is a slice-of-life novel about three girlfriends who grow up together in the megalopolis of Mumbai. Okay, I confess that I have a thing for novels centered around women characters. So that's the first thumbs up for TOF.
I like the characters- rebellious, middle-class Sharvari who has ambitions beyond what most of her peers can even imagine. She's one of those liberalized, emancipated women who don't think marriage is the only meaning to their lives; who are strong, independent career women with an identity of their own. She's my kind of gal. Needless to say, I loved her father's supportive, liberal outlook and hated, vehemently, her mother's bigotr and neo-patriarchal outlook, and the way she discriminates between Neil and Sharvari and cares more about what society thinks than about how her daughter feels. Neil's character is okay- what a wuss.
I loved both Parizaad and her mother- both women struggling to make it through life with a smile on their faces, both so positive and warm and decent and accomodating. I loved how Mrs. Sethna always called Nandini and Sharvari over to her cafe and fed them coffee and dessert.
Nandini is also great- her body image and self-esteem issues have been captured very well. Since it's my personal experience, I can relate. Needless to say I didn't like her parents either.
One of the best things about the writing is the way the author captures conflict. That also shows how she has built complexity into her characters, as opposed to the one-dimensional cardboard cut-outs in contemporary romance novels.
The conflict between Sharvari and her mother and sibling, and later on her spouse, is captured well. As is the way the relation between Parizaad and her mother changes. Nandini's heartbreak, and how she copes with a bad marriage and builds a new life as an independent woman is depicted well.
The plot is good, and the author has maintained the timelines- from adolescence to middle age, very well. The pace of the story is maintained well and the tone is sustained- the author doesn't lose the rhythm for a second. The suspense is well-maintained and you want to keep turning the pages. This is not something all writers can handle.
The prose flows well and is of high quality, the language is good and the grammar is perfect to the T. In a scenario where most 'authors' don't care to work on their language and grammatical skills, the author scores brownie points for being meticulous.
My only problem with the book is the exposition built in between paragraphs- the philosophical ruminations. They signal authorial intrusion into the story and are redundant and jarring- and they take away from the story as well. If you must make a philosophical point, you do it through the characters or the events. They must be in between the lines- as subtext. Subtext is subtle.
You do not insert sudden bouts of deep exposition in between the story. It's overt and irritating- the reader feels they're being preached to.
To sum up, TOF is an important novel. This is writing that endures, this is writing that has subbstance and relevance. These are the kind of books that should be on bestseller lists- and not the incipient tripe dished out by Chetan Baba and his ilk.
I wish the author all the best for her next book.
If you want a break from the tripe being dished out as 'Indian literature' and want to read a well-written novel with succint characters, go buy the book here: Twists of Fate