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Book Review of “Ladies Coupe” by Anita Nair

Ladies Coupe

By Anita Nair

This is riveting story of a woman’s search for strength and independence.

The protagonist Akhilandeshwari, Akhila for short, is forty-five and single, an income-tax clerk, and a woman who has never been allowed to live her own life – always the daughter, the sister, the aunt, the provider. Until the day she gets herself a one-way ticket to the seaside town of Kanyakumari, gloriously alone for the first time in her life and determined to break free of all that her conservative Tamil Brahmin life has bound her to. 

In the intimate atmosphere of the ladies coupé which she shares with five other women, Akhila gets to know her fellow travelers. And follows is an exciting and absorbing read.

Janaki, pampered wife and confused mother; Margaret Shanti, a chemistry teacher married to the poetry of elements and an insensitive tyrant too self-absorbed to recognize her needs; Prabha Devi, the perfect daughter and wife, transformed for life by a glimpse of a swimming pool; Fourteen-year-old Sheela, with her ability to perceive what others cannot; And Marikolanthu, whose innocence was destroyed by one night of lust.

A diverse mix of ladies with their share of stories and insights to their life. As she listens to the women’s stories, Akhila is drawn into the most private moments of their lives, seeking in them a solution to the question that has been with her all her life: Can a woman stay single and be happy, or does a woman need a man to feel complete?

The incidents, the lives, and the cultural diversity of these women are very relatable and feel real. The stories of each of the ladies in the coupe are invigorating, enticing, uplifting and inspiring in their own way. Thoughts and feelings and dreams poured in to words that bring to life show the author’s strength as a writer. It does leave you thinking about one of the simplest yet complex question- does a woman really need a man to complete her and her life? The fine art of story-telling is justified by this author in a very rich way.

(Review by Sanajana Kapoor)

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Book Review of “The Better Man” by Anita Nair

The Better Man

by Anita Nair


The novel is set in the northern part of Kerala, and shows the transformation a man undergoes.

Mukundan, retired from government service, returns to the village of Kaikurussi where he was born. He comes with the intention of erasing the memories of his past. He is upset, viewing his life as a failure. He meets “One-screw-loose-Bhasi”, a local eccentric, a housepainter and an inverter of an odd system of alternative medicine. 

 

He helps in healing Mukundan and transforming himself. Then Power House Ramakrishnan, a locally important man, decides to build a Community hall, and selects Bhasi’s land. He threatens to destroy Bhasi’s business if he refuses to sell the land. Mukundan intends to save Bhasi’s land but is flattered into accepting membership on the project committee. Then Mukundan’s father (one of the strongest characters of the book) dies. Mukundan undergoes a deeper transformation and finds redemption.

You might find the story predictable and about average, but the narrative is fresh.
It is a bit sow in the beginning but it gathers pace and evokes a lot of emotions.
The author catches finer points of village life with much grace and ease, reflecting “real life” in the interior of the country. The power cuts, the post office and the people working in it, the tea stall etc. The tone of the narrative is heart-felt and warm. The incidents and the characters are bound to touch your heart. The only problem is that the tempo of the novel drops a lot. At a point when you think the story is picking up pace and indulging, it somehow drops the plot and fades out.
Overall a nice one time read.

(Review by Sanjana Kapoor) 

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