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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Post 22: Book Review 16: One and A Half Wife by Meghna Pant

Title:  One & A Half Wife

Author:  Meghna Pant

Date:  2012

Publisher:   Westland Publication
Price: Rs. 250

I would like to begin by thanking the author Meghna Pant for sending a copy for review immediately. The title “One and A Half Wife” kept me wondering what the story would be about? Once a few pages into the book, I felt so related to the story being an Indian girl that I read it in one go.

SNAPSHOT: A story of an Indian girl, who tries to live by the norms of the society. However life and luck do not favor her and she faces hardships like the ones one hears and never imagines would happen to one when taken away from her motherland, in marriage etc. It’s the story of the realization and transformations that she goes through to emerge as survivor.

The Story: Amara Malhotra, is a simple Indian girl living a simple life in Shimla. Her parents too are simple. The story begins with her mother, who being traditional asking a fortune teller with a parrot “When will my Amara get married?” the answer to which is “She would be One and A Half Wife” and hence the title of the story is justified and the writers prepares grounds to keep the reader interested and hold the book for a couple of hours more into the journey that begins.

The family especially Amara’s mother referred to as Biji, like most Indian mothers considers that her daughter will have a better future in America or rather Amreeka. So with the help of her brother living there and thirteen years of patience and prayers they finally get a green card and go there. Amara being someone who was not born and brought up there, and being educated in only girls school, find it difficult to adjust, make friends and most of all talk to guys. Her cousins , Tina and Riya who on the other hand being born and brought up there do not consider Amara as one of them. Her efforts to impress Riya, be friendly with her (as they were when her uncle’s family had come to Shimla) and entry in her group of friends fail. Thus she ends up being humiliated and lonely. However, she understands all her parent’s efforts are for her and therefore excels in academics.  She becomes an accountant and starts an organization McKarma, with Stacy to help people like them who have come from other countries adapt faster and better to America.

Then one day as they host Tina’s birthday party, more of a groom finding party for Riya, the mother of the most eligible and well to do bachelor who is the target for Priya and her family, Prashant, takes a liking for Amara. The families get them married in a span of three weeks with hardly any time for communication between them. Everyone is happy, except for Prashant who seems distant. Prashant is a character of a typical Indian male in America, who externally tries to be all branded and has expectations of a wife that he can show off to the world, but wears stuff from sale to wear at home. He initially has a liking for Riya, but marries Amara upon his mother’s insistence. The reason behind Amara being a choice for her mother in law is she is simple, Indian and doesn’t have many American friends. So Amara tries to change herself into someone like Riya, so that her husband will love her. She works for McKarma from home, secretly, doesn’t invite her friend’s home, doesn’t play old hindi songs she loves, everything that Prashant may not like. These things fail to impress Prashant, who says though he did try, he couldn’t love her. Shortly after her sole companion, his mom, passes away, Prashant asks for a “divorce” and there her world comes crashing down.
She has no other option but to return to her parents, who do not understand her or the situation. No amount of reasoning works with Prashant and hence she is, as she feels then doomed to divorce.

Finding all the dreams shattered in a foreign land they returned to India, only to find landing up here in an age when the country is becoming more Americanized.  Will Amara find her life back again in the same streets she spent her childhood in? Will she be able to hold on till the tide has passed? What changes will make her survive to this slowly but surely changing society? Will she finally find love in her life.

The Verdict:
Positive:  Story is well told, language is good and flow is beautiful. No un-necessary detailing and one enjoys the journey. Every tide and ebb is depicted in the right proportion. The authors and editors are to be complemented for the same. Characters and plots are set brilliantly, the depiction of a divorced lady in the beginning to define changes in human nature with time is beautiful. The title moreover is very well suited. Lastly, the ending is beautiful, positive and carries a strong message.

Negative: None

Final Statement: A must read story, especially for every Indian woman, and for every individual as in those low times when every word may fail, this story will give you hope to sail through. Its worth buying right now!

 About the Author:

A financial journalist by day and a writer by night, Meghna Pant is the editor of a business magazine. She has formerly worked as a TV anchor for NDTV Profit and Bloomberg-UTV. Her short stories have been published in over a dozen literary magazines, across four countries.

An avid traveller, Meghna Pant has stayed in various cities around the world, from Mumbai and Singapore to Zurich and New York City. She is currently based in Dubai.

One and a Half Wife - Meghna’s debut novel - has been long listed for the Cinnamon Press Novel Writing Award, selected as a top ten finalists in Word Hustler’s Literary Storm Novel Contest, and made it to the second round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.

 Grab A Copy Now!!!