The Vague Woman’s Handbook

… by Devapriya Roy

I first noticed this book in my neighbourhood book store. Fresh new copies were on the shelf. My first impression was it must be a new time pass book by another new author. I have had some bad reading experience with some new authors. The cover art looked light and on a whim I picked the book.

I got immersed in the story of the two protagonists. Sharmila Mukherjee and Indira Sen are two different strata of women. In fact Sharmila or Mil is still a girl. Newly wed Mil is proudly living with her husband, while the long-widowed Indira is an outwardly mature Government officer. They meet in the offices of Academy of literature. And become fast friends. The unlikely friendship blossoms to a great extent, bringing solutions to many problems and great companionship.There is also the very immature but cute love of Mil and her husband Abhi, Indira’s dominating mother, Abhi and Mil’s uncompromising parents, the nosy neighbors and insufferable house owners too!

The beauty of the book lies in the dynamics of the different relations described in the book, estranged mother-child, not-enough-space mother-child, the newly married lovers, the college friends. All of these relationships are described and built to the reader with utmost care. The author puts forth incidents that test these relations and shows us that the relationships deserve to exist and will stand every test. The love of a young couple, the frustration of living frugally in expensive Delhi, the pain after fights, all these leave the reader with a lot of warmth towards the characters. Both the women are slight scatter brains, Mil not possessing minimal direction sense and Indira being prone to apathic Credit card spending. This definitely helps the women to identify themselves very easily with the characters. Even with their flaws they lead very fulfilling lives. There is no drama in what the author writes. The problems faced by these women are hard ones. They don’t have miraculous solutions but over time with some determination and support, they all overcome their problems, managing to get a few laughs out of them and even managing to allow themselves happy endings.

As for the writing, I enjoyed it immensely. The writer is such an imaginative person and the best part is that she can so easily translate that to the written word. The imagery she builds up to describe all the situations and the surroundings is so beautiful that I fell in love with the writing. The fact that I finished the book in one night is itself a testimonial to that.

My only gripe is that though the cover art is interesting, it does not portray the women as described in the book. Hope that changes in the next reprint!

Excellent read. My rating 5*

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4 comments on “The Vague Woman’s Handbook

  1. Titaxy says:

    interesting. goes on my list right away 😀

  2. Hmm sounds interesting. Definitely on my list. Might even pick it up in India during my upcoming visit…

  3. Smita says:

    It is that good??? Hmmmm will get it soon then 🙂

  4. He he.. Yes get your copy now 🙂 I highly recommend!

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