I received an ARC of the book in exchange for an honest review of the book. My views are not influenced by the author or publisher and are completely unbiased.
It is rather rare in today’s time that a gem like this gets written. Simply put, most authors do not like the truth of life because it does not sell in commercial writing. Usually the plots have a feel good factor and some hot steamy scenes to ppe up the X factor. But here is this book which describes life just the way it is. Unfair, but you learn to live around it.
The plot begins with the main protagonist Ragini ending her divorce proceedings. She is supported by her elder sister, Kamini, who remains her pillar of strength and sanity throughout the book. Ragini is just 26 years old. A banker with a good settled job and looks to die for. But that does not make for a happy life now does it?? She was married to Kadamb, her senior in college. Nothing is what it seems like and her world of love comes crumbling down when faced with money minded in-laws who saw their daughter-in-law as a money vending machine. This however does not diminish her hopes in finding love and the quest for a right partner. The tragedy does not make her bitter and she is rather determined to remarry. What ensues further makes up the rest of the book.
Ragini registers herself in one the matrimonial sites for divorced people. Seeking her second chance, she looks for a prospective profile. Through this profile search, author Kavita has done a fabulous role of commenting on the treatment/behaviour a divorced woman is met with by the society, especially males. She is seen as desperate and readily available for a fling since she is divorced. The reason for divorce is never looked up as a woman who is divorced is always wrong. In other words, bold and fast(cheap morale) women get divorced, and not women from respectable homes. Men are never questioned, rather they are sympathised with mostly.
Kavita Bhatnagar also highlights the callous nature of these matrimonial sites where any one can register themselves and send requests to profile, at times conning women with romance scam into phone sex and so on. Each prospective suitor that fails is a commentary on the men in Indian society. They are progressive only for namesake and if it suits their conditions and needs. If a woman agrees to meet you or takes the initiative to call then she is taken as forward and an invitation for casual sex. But is it??? Just because she happens to be confident in herself and knows her mind she is looked down as available as a person of loose character. All through her struggles to find the right person, her sister Kamini and her friend Mia stand by her always. This shows female solidarity and emphasizes the point of uplifting each other rather than putting down our own people with trivial comments and gossip. The contrast in various characters sets to highlight how our Indian society functions. Women mostly have peripheral roles and these are filtered down to sons from their own parents. Unless men are taught to behave at homes, women will never have the freedom and stand they deserve.
The writing style is crisp and there is not a dull moment in the book. The plot is not linear in progression so the reader does not get bored. It makes you emotionally invested so might feel drained after reading the book. A good look on the society, this book covers several themes intertwined with each other: search for love and acceptance, self doubt after divorce, societal conditioning, family ties, and our patriarchal society. Men would find it difficult to digest. Yet I would say everyone should read to understand the difficulties a divorced woman faces while stepping out into the Indian society. It seems she is marked with the Scarlet Letter.