Posted in Fiction, My Bibliothèque, Women's Fiction

{ Book Review ) – Ladies Coupé by Anita Nair !

I find rating books in stars a little difficult these days. Probably because I don’t have a clearly etched benchmark of what a 5-star rated book should be like. It happened that way with this book. This is my second book by Anita Nair, the first being Alphabet Soup for Lovers. Parts of this book were brilliant, especially the initial 150 pages or so. It begins with Akhilandeswari, a 45-year-old, single woman who works as an income tax clerk, buys a one-way ticket to Kanyakumari. When she steps into the Coupé ( this Coupé thing itself sounds so romantic and beautifully fictional because I have never travelled by a Coupe ), she meets and talks to six women, all from different walks of life, and listens to their life stories as narrated by them. In parallel, her thoughts take us through how she has become what she has become.

(10/36 of 2017 ) FR – Ladies Coupé by Anita Nair. I find rating books in stars a little difficult these days. Probably because I don't have a clearly etched benchmark of what a 5-star rated book should be like. It happened that way with this book. Parts of this book were brilliant, especially the initial 150 pages or so. It begins with Akhilandeswari, a 45 year old, single woman who works as an income tax clerk, buys a one way ticket to Kanyakumari. When she steps into the Coupé ( this Coupé thing itself sounds so romantic and beautifully fictional because I have never travelled by a Coupe ), she meets and talks to six women, all from different walks of life, and listens to their life stories as narrated by them. In parallel, her thoughts take us through how she has become what she has become. Her childhood and the part which describes a weekend from when her Appa was alive is the part of the book I didn't want to move on from. I silently judged her mother, just like Akhila did, from dissolving her existence in the pool that was nothing but her husband. I am not particularly impressed with the characters of Akhila's family, but they are quite realistic. But some parts of the book are magical. It is probably the hapless romantic in me but it was like I stood on the other side of the curtain of steam that rose from a mound of white, glistening grains of rice her mother served her father on a plantain leaf, every Sunday. Here I quote the author: "Piping Hot, fragrant with the alchemy of steam, spices and Amma's devotion to the man who, for her sake and the children's', lunched on curd rice and a slice of lime pickle, six days a week and never complained." A few paragraphs later, I am smiling in approval as Amma makes fried, succulent, half moon Kathirikai Bajjis for Tiffin but doesn't mix filter coffee decoction until she has the Kesari ready to serve. [ Continued in the comment below ]

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Posted in Food and Drink, My Bibliothèque, Romance

{ Book Review } – Alphabet Soup for Lovers by Anita Nair!

Alphabet Soup for Lovers is not a collection of recipes. Nor is it a riveting tale of two ill-fated lovers who get together after a long struggle, sacrifices or a display of strong character. For me, Alphabet Soup for Lovers felt like tucking in a bowl of warm, ghee laced khichdi, occasionally biting into a whole peppercorn or a piece of mango pickle accompanied by a rather limp, oil soaked papad which should have brought it some texture and flavours into the khichdi but ended up rather being a nuisance.

Book 4 / 36 – Alphabet Soup for Lovers by Anita Nair is not a collection of recipes. Nor is it a riveting tale of two ill-fated lovers who get together after a long struggle, sacrifices or a display of strong character. For me, Alphabet Soup for Lovers felt like tucking into a bowl of warm, ghee laced khichdi, occasionally biting into a whole peppercorn or a piece of mango pickle accompanied by a rather limp, oil soaked papad which should have brought it some texture and flavours into the khichdi but ended up rather being a nuisance. The story begins with the narrator and my favourite character in the book, Komathi, expressing her frustration at not being able to pick up the English Alphabet. She is an old retainer of the female protagonist, Lena, who lives in the idyllic Nilgiris and is described to be in a sort of an emotionless relationship with her husband KK. In contrast, the Komathi's character is very well etched. And the food metaphors that she uses are endearing. She decides to associate each letter with a fruit, vegetable or dish. That way she will never forget it. As she winds her way through alphabets, she is mostly an impassive witness to the illicit attraction that springs up between Lena and Shoola Pani. As she goes through this beautiful journey from A for Arisi Appalam, choosing the humble Appalam over her granddaughter's A for Apple and makes her way to the calm and soothing end with Z for Zigarthanda ( I know, it starts with J but Komathi chooses Jigarthanda for Z ) her back story unravels revealing a surprise, an unrequited love, and explains why her thoughts are what they are. What I did not like was how hollow the rest of the characters and the stories sound in the book. I found them dull because nothing explains why a character behaves the way she/he behaves. Not their thoughts, not their words and neither a third person assesment of their behaviour, like Komathi's thoughts about them explains the story development. Looks like the author didn't heed Komathi's advice and fried the Arisi Appalams in smoking hot oil, leaving the Appalam uncooked on the inside and sticking to the reader's teeth. Detailed review on the blog, link in bio!

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