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Disclaimer: This review is part of the blog tour of The Book Club and all the details of the book can be found here.
Raising my toast to one of the most undramatic extra-marital affair I have ever come across.
Anjana aka Anju lands up with a scoop after a chance meeting with the Vice-Captain of the Indian Cricket team, Avinash. More than a professional relationship, they are attracted towards each other.
Falling in love is not the problem. But being married and falling in love is. Anjana is already married to a businessman, Naren. It is not like she is having problems with her husband. One of the best part of this book is that relationships are not shown as dramatic and are not dragged more then it needed to be. The extra marital affair is not justified but treated as a part of complex human emotions. Why did she fall in love with Avinash even when Naren is portrayed as a great guy? Sex is not an issue in their marriage nor Naren comes across as abusive.
It is just one of "those things" that "happens". She fell in love with her subject. No explanation, No reproach and definitely no begging for forgiveness.
Makes me wonder if this is what our society is heading towards. As a writer, Sowmya Aji laid it out as it is. No judgements passed. Throughout the story, Anjana's emotions are portrayed and it did not even touch on the emotions of others around her. We come to know about others due to Anjana's interaction with them. Loved the way Ms.Aji stuck to her protag's POV.
Is the relationship between the media and the cricket world. When Anjana gets the scoop on the upper- level cricketers using steroids, she starts questioning the team members. This leads to many revelations but none of them came from Avinash, but from the captain of the team, Ratan. Sadly, it is Avinash, who is caught in the web of scandals and accusations. And it is Anjana who is always standing on the thin line between duty and emotions.
Ms. Aji has woven many complex characters together in this story. From Avinash going through his mood swings to Kartik feeling angry with Anjana for hurting his new-found friend. Strangely the lack of emotion seemed to be Naren's domain and not Anjana's.
That puzzled me as woman. Is he blind? Open marriages are becoming the norm in the working elites but still.. not unless he has some major flaws in his own character,I really could not understand why he never questions her. When the newspapers screams of your wife having an affair.. well, there has to be some reaction. But seriously, Naren is booked for me in the next life. :D
The ethics in this story will have you wondering about every shade of grey.Anjana's professional ethics were ten times more than her personal ones. That was another thing that puzzled me. Her coolness to the whole situation. Did she not feel guilty even once? Even when she was making love to Naren - did it not stop her even for a second? Strangely, it is this shallowness in her character which makes her so endearing to the readers.
I frankly started doubting my own character! Not once did I think, while reading it, that Anjana was wrong in any way. It is only when I started writing the review, did I start questioning this . Needless to say, this story is so gripping that you will find this book totally unputdownable.
Small doses of humor...
Even with a serious topic, Ms Aji has managed to inject, what I am presuming, is her dry sense of humor. That scene with 'Mr.Seatmate' was really funny and realistic.
The colloquial feel..
Whether Mumbai, Delhi or Bangalore - Ms. Aji has kept the voice true to the cities. This was the best part of the story..When Anjana translates Assi mentally to 80 - this type of incidents is so bloody true! This forms the heart of the story. Every place Anjana went became picturesque with Ms. Aji's words.
I would have gladly given this story a five star but there were a few points that made me question the completeness of the novel.
1) What happened to the fiancée of Avinash?
2) What was troubling Naren? Why did he not share it with his wife?
And then one line...
We didn't do live phone-ins on the news shows then, but recorded question-answer phone sessions....
Did she know that Live phone-ins would happen in the future?
I am all for the 'leave it to the reader's imagination' in the ending. Especially in regard to Avinash and Anjana but the above two questions were a major part of the story and needed some conclusion. The focus of the story was totally on Anjana's reaction to the the discovery of 'who's taking the sterioids' in the Indian Cricket Team and Ms. Aji's journalistic background is easily noticeable at the way she has etched Anjana's character. And I do hope there is a Delirium Part 2 for some of the relationships will haunt me if I don't know their destination.
Even with a very serious topic, Ms Aji has managed to inject, what I am presuming, is her dry sense of humour. That scene with Mr.Seatmate was really funny.
Would I recommend this book :
A definite Yes... It's a superb read.
Lines that stayed with me-
"Why did it always feel so good to come back to Bangalore? The air was balmy despite the pollution, and soothing .The old airport was nothing much to boast about . But it was my city, my turf."
- for those who are from Bangalore these lines will resonate. Its just a feeling which you remember every time you land there. Made me homesick.