Hello everybody- readers, writers, et al. I just finished reading Chandana Roy’s debut novel, A Good Girl. It’s a wonderful story that many of us can identify with. First things first: let me give you the gist of the story (no spoilers here) so you get an idea of what it’s about.
The novel opens with the protagonist, Ellora Chatterjee, 33, attending a boring party at her sister’s friend’s house in Virginia. She feels lonely and out of place, and wonders whether the others know of her scandalous past. Aparna, her elder sister, is bent on finding her a match, a good Bengali boy. The story deftly moves from past to present, where we learn of the one incident that changed Ellora’s life, and the consequences of that scandal which always seem to follow her. But things are different in Virginia, She finally is able to leave the past behind. Should she follow her head or her heart in choosing her future mate, especially as she has been hurt so badly in the past when she followed her heart?
This was a book I just couldn't put down until I had come to the very last page. Chandana is a born storyteller, and there is not a single moment of boredom in this novel. Right from the opening scene with its light social comedy until the exciting end, we are drawn into the action and into the character. And it is indeed Ellora Chatterjee’s character that is so human, so likeable. She’s both like the girl-next-door, yet has her own strong personality, which makes her a unique individual. And I'm sure many of us can identify with her, especially if you're from the East (as opposed to the more permissive West) in always getting unsolicited advice about how to run one’s life.
But this is no wishy-washy sentimental read. The book has many humorous moments. I had a good chuckle over the funny scenes and funnier people. People like Aparna with her mixed idioms, Vicky Bhalla and his rustic pronunciation and Leela Banerjee and her coterie of mems, and their ridiculous adherence to English mores and customs, All these characters and their antics put a smile on your face, despite the very serious theme of the book.
And it is indeed this quality that makes this book eminently readable. The author’s touch is light, but the message of the book is a thought-provoking one. What should one do in matters of the heart- follow the “nuggets of wisdom” dished out by well-meaning friends and relatives, or do what your own heart dictates?
One last word… The book makes many references to nature, and to the botanical or zoological names of birds, flowers and insects (we can see that the author here is a Zoology major) but they are so cleverly woven into the narrative that they never detract from the story, and in fact enhance our knowledge. I didn't know, for example, that Cardinals wear bright red cassocks and that’s why the brightly coloured cardinal birds are named after them!
Chandana- please don't make this your one-book wonder! I'd love to read another novel penned by you.
|Chandana Roy with her debut novel. A Good Girl|
Bye for now, everybody, and have a great summer! And watch out for more literary stuff on this blog!
Chandana’s book is available in all major bookstores in India and it can also be ordered online at the following links:
Flipkart link: http://www.flipkart.com/good-girl-english/p/itme7r4zzxaw5dvm?pid=9788192982205
Amazon link: http://www.amazon.in/Good-Girl-Chandana-Roy/dp/8192982203/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=14301569
Dubai readers, no worries! This book will shortly be available here too! Watch out for more details.