Sunday, June 24, 2018

A Cage of Desires by Shuchi Singh Kalra : A Review


BOOK TITLE: A Cage of Desires

AUTHOR: Shuchi Singh Kalra

ISBN/ASIN: B07CVJ8S6Z

GENRE: Contemporary Fiction

NUMBER OF PAGES: 175

FORMAT: Kindle

SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: I thank the author for the book, the recommendation and her request for a thoroughly honest review.

SUMMARY:

'There's a kind of love that makes you go down on one knee, and there's the kind that brings you down on both. You don't need the latter, because no matter what you do, you cannot make anyone love you back.'

Renu had always craved for love and security, and her boring marriage, mundane existence somehow leads her to believe that, maybe, this is what love is all about. Maya, on the other hand, is a successful author who is infamous for her bold, erotic books.

What do these two women have in common? How are their lives intertwined?

Renu's thirst for love and longing takes her on a poignant journey of self-exploration. The answers come to her when she finds the courage to stand up for herself, to fight her inner demons and free herself from the cage of desires . . .

FIRST IMPRESSION:

Since I had already read two books by Shuchi, I had an idea of what to expect where the writing was concerned. The summary was short and to the point, and the book cover gave me an idea of what the story may contain. The blurb that compares two contrasting personalities, how they will affect the lives of the other and what common points they might have, piqued my interest. The cover image is enticing, and reflective of the genre this book is based on, not revealing much but still garnering readers' attention enough to pick it up and read the book back summary.

REVIEW:

A Cage of Desires - is a very tastefully written piece of fiction that touches upon many cross genres including mild erotica, self exploration and women empowerment. The book is a bit of everything, but does not overdo anything. The story is simple yet profound, the narrative holds the reader with a lot more factors than just descriptions. What attracted me first to the story was how evenly it paced out. There were highs and lows, but they were all balanced throughout, not clashing with the pace of the plot or wrapping up with hurried and abrupt jumps between scenes.

Renu as the docile housewife who is stuck in a loveless marriage and has two kids, and who spends her days tending to her aged father in law and maintaining the household on the meager monthly income her husband sends, is a character who will stick in the readers' minds immediately. Anyone who has closely watched the big indian families of the past few decades can name at lease one Renu who is the spineless backbone of the household, the thankless woman whose days begin before dawn and end after midnight. It is with this character that the story draws its readers in. And in perfectly etching the confusions faced by a middle aged woman whose priority list does not include her own self, the author scores a brilliant tale. Maya as the bold author whose books are devoured by masses and who writes things most people cannot even begin to imagine, but love to read on paper - is the kind of woman who are admired from afar but not accepted up close.

The book follows Renu's life, and the twists and turns that happen when temptation crosses her path. The trajectory of Maya and her life is also brought out well, giving a contrast that highlights all the issues that happen in the Indian society. The story's biggest plus is the narrative, putting forward the erotic parts without crass details, having believable characters and shifts in their behaviour, and being totally unapologetic about conveying the stark realities of Indian marriages, social pressures and the double standards that come with them. Some parts are predictable, and the seasoned reader can guess the story's path before the actual suspense is revealed, but that was not the point of the story, which I guess was written to convey something else entirely.

Overall a book with good English, no major noticable grammatical flaws and smooth plot transition. I loved the narration and the characterisation though I could not find any specific character that I wanted to root for. The writing shone through with brilliance in some places, with a few profound words that could serve as good reminders about love and life.

Here are a few I liked.

Everything was in its place, and yet nothing was.

That's the thing about truth - it doesn't flinch, it doesn't falter, it sears and burns. And the truth singed her heart, scarring it in places she never even realised existed.

Is love about possessing someone? Is it about owning someone? Love is free, unfettered, like the air and water. Like our love is.

There's a kind of love that makes you go down on one knee, and there's the kind that brings you down on both. You don't need the latter, because no matter what you do, you cannot make anyone love you back.

Not all stories have a beginning and an end, because they are not stories at all. They are journeys.

WHAT I LIKED:
  • The book was bold without resorting to crassness. That is a huge plus.
  • The character transitions were believable and clear
  • The book was unapologetic about what it wanted to convey and did not shy away from detailing the troubles faced by some married women in patriarchal families in the country.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:
  • Two big suspense reveals are timed in such a way that the narrative itself reveals them indirectly a few pages before the actual mention. The suspense could have held on till the actual reveal to make the novel more interesting.
  • The individual characters are hard to root for, and lead the readers to not take any side clearly.
  • The story would have remained the same without the prologue, which served to quell the biggest question of the plot.
VERDICT:

Loved the boldness, the clean writing and the smooth pace of the story. Good read.

RATING: 4/5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shuchi Singh Kalra is the Amazon bestselling author of two novels-Done with Men and I'm Big. So What!? Her short stories have appeared in Love across Borders, Stories for Your Valentine and NAW Anthology 2013. In her freelancing career of over a decade, Shuchi has written for major print and online publications such as Femina, Good Housekeeping, Hotelier International, Huffington Post and Home Review, among others. She has also been listed among the top women authors to follow on Twitter. Website: www.shuchikalra.com


Twitter: @shuchikalra

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Kindle, Paperback

PRICE Rs. 175.11 for Kindle, Rs. 225 for Paperback

BOOK LINKS: Amazon


Saturday, June 23, 2018

Guest Post by Divyata Rajaram, author of 'If You Only Knew Me'


Is personal experience in a city/ country an important factor that influences the location / setting of novels?
Personal experience can certainly influence the location and setting of a novel and in fact can have a significant impact on the story itself. The genre of If You Only Knew Me as a social drama interwoven with a thriller wholly demanded an understanding of the social context of the Non Resident Indian diaspora.
Having witnessed the various social pressures and challenges faced by this community first hand, greatly helped me provide a detailed description of the situations the characters find themselves in. I do believe this understanding also lent a further sense of gravitas to the writing. If You Only Knew Me also attempts to explore the emotions and feelings of the characters as they struggle with the “bird in a gilded cage syndrome” – a life of seeming luxury and ease which, instead of ensuring happiness is fraught with insecurities, angst and loneliness.
Friendships are tenuous to say the least which is also representative of the transient feelings and relationships one experiences in a home away from home. The choice of Dubai as an ideal setting for such a story is because it is a modern contemporary location, brimming with mystique, the machinations of high society and endless drama at every nook and corner.
Living in Dubai has always filled me with a sense of awe at how the city has shaped and twisted lives and careers much like the shifting sands of the desert as described in the novel. There are those who are the players and those who are played. But they are all subject to the changing tides and circumstances that drive them toward their unique destiny.