Book Review: In the Light of Darkness by Radhika Tabrez

Published by: Readomania. 2016

  • ISBN-10:9385854178
  • ISBN-13:978-9385854170

264 pages

cover_in-the-light-of-darkness

A luminous debut of Radhika Maira Tabrez, In The Light of Darkness, published by Readomania is a gripping, heart-rending tale of estrangement and reconciliation in the most esoteric, inexplicable way. What hooked me to the book from the start to the end was a unique, heartwarming catharsis, the catharsis born out of the myriad hues of complex human emotions manifested through the tale of a vulnerable, yet rock-solid mother Susan Periera and her son Matthew, headstrong, flawed, yet victorious in his pursuit to seek a closure. The strength of the mother-son dynamics in the narrative lies in the undercurrent of tragedy woven seamlessly in the storyline, in the raw beauty and truth embedded in Matthew’s life choices, his moral dilemma and his repercussions of unraveling the truth of his harrowing past, leading to a heart-wrenching self-discovery.

An endearingly delineated tale of love and loss, set in the backdrop of the idyllic, fictitious coastal town of Bydore, In the Light of Darkness also centers around two women unrelated by blood, but brought together by the strange turns of destiny: Susan Periera and Meera Vashisht, both with hearts of gold come closer and unite through their excruciating individual sufferings, complementing each other in their pitfalls and their rising, in the complex tangled web of their lives laced with subtle, unforgettable emotions. They become the beautiful, intrinsic parts of a jigsaw puzzle carved out in the novel with such warmth, hope, beauty and uniqueness that the readers are left with a sense of the classic “calm of mind, all passions spent”, the chasms in the hearts of these two women resonating so deeply within them.

The estrangement between the mother and son and their murky past, intertwined, prepares the readers for the collective journey of emotional conflicts and Déjà vu from the very start of the novel. After Susan’s death, the letter which Matthew discovers, handwritten for him by her bears the seamlessly woven imprints of the unswerving resilience of her spirit, a resilience that shakes the very core of his beliefs, his existential questions. The catharsis is attained bit by bit, subtly and organically, as Matthew comes closer to and acknowledges the ravaged, yet resplendent spirit of his mother and the heart-rending beauty, pathos and truth of Meera who had filled in the vacuum of his mother’s life amid her most trying times. It is a collective journey of Susan, Matthew and Meera, and the friends who have been deeply touched in their life journey, attaining the final closure–Attraversiamo, in their own unique, enriching, edifying ways.

With a razor-sharp editing, an effortless narration that sometimes borders on excessive introspection, yet never loses the emotional prowess and the characteristic candor in the depiction of an unforgettable tale of human emotions, the book will linger in our hearts long after reading. There are frequent sparks of literary brilliance in the author’s delineation of characters, her visualization of the scenes and her deft handling of human relationships, which makes it a must-read book for lovers of contemporary literary fiction.

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A Thousand Unspoken Words: A Seething Saga of Love

Book Review

Title: A Thousand Unspoken Words

Author: Paulami Dutta Gupta
Publisher: Readomania
ISBN: 978-81-929975-9-9
Genre: Fiction / Romance

unspoken word final curve

Cover image of ATUW, published by Readomania

Love, the oft-used and abused four-letter word, especially in the context of a man-woman relationship often has nuances and layers in it, that can be both intimidating and incisive, as it can be enlightening and transcending to a new realm altogether. While being part of Tilottama and Musafir’s jagged journey to explore their seething, heart-rending chemistry, we the readers of ‘A Thousand Unspoken Words’ are tossed and turned over a thousand times, while looking into the meaning and essence of their mutual yearning, their drifting apart, the crescendo of their acceptance of each other. The book, authored by the national award-winning writer/screenplay writer of ‘Ri: Homeland of Uncertainty’ and the recently acclaimed and award-winning ‘Onatah’, Paulami Dattagupta, and published by Readomania is a rare treat for those discerning readers of romance and drama who love to read unique, psychologically gratifying journeys of the protagonists. ‘A Thousand Unspoken Words’ is undoubtedly such a journey that will make them yearn for more.

Musafir, the unrelenting, the fiercely anti-establishment author and later, the grave opportunist and ambitious writer, entrepreneur one day walks into Tilottama’s wet, ardent world in a crisis situation in Kolkata (which will always remind me of how Captain Bluntschli entered the mushy, private world of Raina Petkoff’s bedroom in George Bernard Shaw’s ‘Arms and the Man’ and becomes her endearing ‘chocolate-cream soldier’). As the ‘fateful’ night subsides, he tears her apart when he leaves her with a letter professing his situation and his identity. Later, when they meet years after, and Tilottama is tormented to see her Musafir transforming from the idealist, crusader and hero to the failed, yet humane Riddhiman, it is the strength of the fervent passion and emotions inside her (at times too obsessive to be true), which ultimately leads both Musafir/Riddhiman and his love Tilottama to their catharsis/culmination.

Tilottama’s love for her Musafir and the ideologies that he represented as a crusader is at times dreamy, verdant and too good to be true, while at other times her palpable, raw and multi-dimensional feelings for her fire-brand hero who has failed both himself and her becomes an intense, moving inner quest for her self-discovery. Together, as they meet and estrange, only to be reunited later, they twist, sparkle and burn, and Paulami’s deft narration of both their inner and their outer worlds, comprising of the other minor characters in the narrative, wins hands-down. The various strands of the narrative are woven so seamlessly and so effortlessly that one wonders if it is all a movie being played in front of his eyes, portraying a saga of emotionally burdened, yet soulful characters. In the end, when both Musafir and Tilottama solidify their bond, yet their ‘thousand unspoken words’ still hover in the arid air between them, the reader is left with both the music of spoken words and the music of inexplicable silence that lends a scintillating aroma to the story.

As a reader, I would highly recommend this page-turner of a novel to all those who love intense, substantial storytelling and real-life depictions of the protagonists rather than mushy, implausible and feel-good romances.

Available in Amazon India, Amazon worldwide and at leading bookstores in India.

http://www.amazon.in/Thousand-Unspoken-Words-Paulami-DuttaGupta/dp/8192997596?ie=UTF8&keywords=A%20Thousand%20Unspoken%20Words&qid=1464727008&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1 (Amazon India)

https://www.amazon.com/Thousand-Unspoken-Words-story-fallen-ebook/dp/B0189NOKW8?ie=UTF8&keywords=A%20Thousand%20Unspoken%20Words&qid=1464727675&ref_=sr_1_2&sr=8-2  (Amazon worldwide)

 

 

Review of Defiant Dreams: by Jean Spraker

Hello friends, it is a pleasure to share a wonderfully written, intensive and thought-provoking review of Defiant Dreams: Tales of Everyday Divas, a collection of stories about woman protagonists that I have the privilege of co-editing with my friend Rhiti Bose. The review, written by Jean Spraker, our friend from a thriving writing community in Facebook, For Writers By Authors, started out with wonderfully engaging twitter posts about each individual story in the collection and what, according to her, makes them linger in her psyche. The way she dissected each story with her sensitive, powerfully analytic lens was commendable, to say the least, and here she follows it up with a brilliant overview of the book, analyzing its strengths and also its flaws. WE the editors and authors of Defiant Dreams are grateful to you, Jean, for your masterful observation and analysis.

Defiant Dreams_book

The cover of Defiant Dreams: Tales of Everyday Divas, published Readomania. 

Sharing excerpts of the review here:

About the book

Defiant Dreams: Tales of Everyday Divas is a short story collection from Incredible Women of India, an online magazine that features life stories of everyday women. In 2015, Incredible Women conducted a short story contest called Stree. The contest had more than 100 entries from across India and beyond. 24 authors were chosen to contribute to Defiant Dreams.

To read the entire review, do visit this page in Jean Spraker’s website:

Review: Defiant Dreams

Do grab a copy of the book here:

http://www.amazon.com/Defiant-Dreams-Tales-Everyday-Divas/dp/9385854046/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1451409685&sr=8-3&keywords=Defiant+Dreams

Book Review of ‘The Madras Affair’ by Sundari Venkatraman

The Madras Affair_cover

Cover page of The Madras Affair, published by Readomania

In the novel ‘The Madras Affair’, published by Readomania, the author Sundari Venkatraman transports the readers to a world of romance that blossoms, flourishes, then dwindles and again rises in the denouement, much like the mills and boon series we had been addicted to in our teenage years, only here the romance hovers much to the chagrin, the turmoil and haplessness of the world where the lovers find themselves in. And instead of the carefree western characters of the M&B romance, here the lovers, especially the heroine, the young widow Sangita and her family carry the baggage of Indian traditional sensibilities, threatening to nip the romance in the bud, right when it comes to sweep her off her feet.

This tug and pull of mindless orthodoxy versus sensuous, unhindered expression of love continues almost till the end of the novel. Also, this conflict constitutes much of the dramatic tension that almost overpowers the romance at places, as the heroine Sangita braces herself for an uphill battle not only against archaic societal norms, but also against the demons at play in her own psyche.

Through the pages, we are led to the mysterious, wayward trajectories of Sangita’s mind, oscillating between traditions and sensuous expressions, between her harrowing past and the glittering promises and sweet seduction of love that beckons her. On one hand, the tormenting memories of her dead husband Giridhar and his abuses, both sexual, physical and verbal, make her yearn for the fulfilment of passionate love she finds in the arms of Gautam, the hero. On the other hand,  she seems to be at the receiving end of false, preconceived notions of her own self-assessed frigidity, which, at the end, is proven to be false, baseless in the arms of Gautam. The frigidity and apathy towards sexual attraction, which Sangita embraces as her inherent attributes, works mostly to thwart the passionate demeanor of Gautam, but as the romance wins over, the readers realize passion lies at the core of Sangita’s own being too, only the memories of the loathsome groping of her body by her dead husband Giridhar haunts her and conditions her to believe that she is incapable of expressing her love physically.

The transformation of Sangita from the tormented, docile widow and mother of a young kid, always at the receiving end of her apathetic parents’ whims and patriarchal diktats to the dynamic, confident woman spearheading an NGO for battered woman, is traced in the narrative through flashbacks. The narrative shuttling between the past and the present,  dissects the issue of widow remarriage and also indulges in the sizzling romance destined to throw away prevalent social customs. The depiction of the scenes and settings serve to present the emotional world of Sangita and Gautam, smitten by love, lust, spice and charm, yet fraught with questions, indictments and startling revelations that only bring them closer to each other in the long run.

The desperate, despondent romantic in me started reading the novel in the month of February, which happens to be the month celebrating romance, trying to get some fodder for writing breezy romantic stuff of my own. However, towards the end, I found myself curled up in an orthodox south Indian woman’s struggles to get rid of her own inhibitions. I also found myself cursing the ridiculously regressive cultural traditions and the dreadful objectification that Sangita is trapped into, not only by her husband’s sick sexual advances, but also by her own family who thrusts the label of a sexless, celibate, frigid widowhood on her, trying to push her in a bottomless pit of self-destruction. In the end, with the union of Sangita and Gautam as a couple in body and spirits, especially in the bold, steamy lovemaking scene, it all came full circle, in a complex, intriguing and alluring tapestry of human emotions where love became the all-consuming and omnipotent force, sweeping everything else away.

As a reader, I would recommend the book to lovers of breezy, whirlwind romances, who are also looking for a gripping, tight storyline and an underlying social message.

About the Author:

Sundari

Sundari Venkatraman

Growing up on a heavy dose of fairy tales and comic books, Sundari fell in love with the ‘lived happily ever after’ syndrome. It was always about good triumphing over evil and a happy end. 
     
Soon, into her teens, Sundari graduated to Mills & Boon romances. And that got her thinking – how about such breezy romances in Indian settings? Her imagination took flight and she always lived in a rosy cocoon of romance over the years. 
     
Then came the writing – a true bolt out of the blue! Sundari had just quit her job as a school admin and was taking a break. She was saturated with reading books. That’s when she returned home one evening after her walk, took some sheets of paper and began writing. It was like watching a movie that was running in her head – all those years of visualising a perfect Indian romance had to be put into words. The dormant romantic storyteller in her finally found its calling and The Malhotra Bride was born. While she felt disheartened when publishing didn’t happen, it was her husband who encouraged her to keep writing. 
   
 In the meanwhile, she landed a job as copy editor with Mumbai Mirror. After working there for two years, she moved to the Network 18 Group and worked with two of their websites over the next six years, as content editor. 
    
 Despite her work schedule, she continued writing novels and short stories and had them published in her blogs. She also started blogging voraciously, writing on many different topics – travel, book reviews, film reviews, restaurant reviews, spirituality, alternative health and more. 
    
Her first eBook Double Jeopardy – a romance novella – was published by Indireads and has been very well received by readers of romance.  
    
In 2014, Sundari published The Malhotra Bride (2nd Edition); Meghna; The Runaway Bridegroom; Flaming Sun Collection 1: Happily Ever Afters From India (Box Set) and Matches Made In Heaven (a collection of romantic short stories) in form of ebooks.
The Madras Affair is available in Amazon and Goodreads.