The Madras Affair by Sundari Venkatraman, a book that would draw any Chennaite to pick a copy for the title and the author. I received the e-book for review from the book club. Regardless of my love for Madras, Sundari, and TBC, the review presented below is honest indeed.
First Impression: Pretty attractive title and a cover so strong. With a voluptuous woman’s body and a face with eyes so powerful, representing a tale of a woman’s life history. Inviting!
Overall Impression: Spellbound. The smile that I had when I read the first chapter vanished when I finished the second. The lovely story turned to a painful history in a matter of a few pages. The pain inscribed in every word used to describe what Sangita has gone through pricks like a thorn. It shirks the reader. Sundari has ensured to choose the right words to give life to pain. At the end of the second chapter, I started reading the third with a thirst to know how Sangita made it. A feminist or no, the story touches the soul.
What did I love about the book? – With no doubts the Characters. Gautam, the blue-eyed hero is the one that any woman would love to meet. Prince charming and chivalrous, who showers the much deserved love on Sangita, as if, the prayers of readers who got the gist of what she went through in her past were answered. In a matter of a chapter, Sundari injected much hatred towards Sangita’s first husband, which rather delighted the reader to hear the news of demise rather than to land as a shock. Though the subject handled has potential to say it is deep and dark, the author has ensured to leaf-in details like Sangita-Gautam’s conversations that make it a light read which many authors give it a miss.
Wow Factors: 1) Language and choice of words
2) The nativity followed – She takes the reader to 1995 with names like Pankajam being used, and the breeze of words like Idly, Sambar, Upma, and coconut chutney, which marks that it is Madras
3) Beautiful portrayal of what the woman goes through, especially the parts where that Sangita had to agree for a tonsure in the event of her husband’s death and the light thrown at her sexual frustration takes a special mention which most leave unattended. When there are artificial stories and movies that say a woman will lose interest in sex and would dedicate her whole life to help her kids grow, The Madras Affair tears the mask created and calls a spade as a spade
4) Figurative language perfumed when required adding more value to understand the depth of the situation
5) Beautiful dive on the oscillations a woman would go through in unfavorable situations
6) Handling emotions of a kid in want of a father to feel complete have never been this real! Stunning is an understatement.
Frown Factors: 1) A bit on the lengthy side which slows down the pace here and there, though at times a few detailing were eye-catching, there were places that makes a reader skim through than read. Otherwise, a wonderful read!