Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Review: The House That BJ Built by Anuja Chauhan

Book: The House That BJ Built

Author: Anuja Chauhan 

Pages: 427

I read: The paperback edition pictured above

I read it in: Over 3-4 days 

Plot Summary:  I'll make my sisters squirm like well-salted earthworms. I won't sell. Even my jutti wont sell. And if I die na, then even my gosht won't sell! The late Binodini Thakur had been very clear that she would never agree to sell her hissa in her Bauji's big old house on Hailey Road. And her daughter Bonu, is determined to honor her mothers wishes.

But what to do about her four pushy aunts who are insisting she sell? One is bald and stingy, one is jobless and manless, one needs the money to 'save the nation' and one is stepmother to Bonus childhood crush-brilliant young Bollywood director Samar Vir Singh, who promised BJ upon his deathbed that he would get the house sold, divvy the money equally and end all the bickering within the family.

The first word baby Bonu ever spoke was 'Balls' and indeed, she is ballsy, bullshit-intolerant, brave and beautiful. But is she strong enough to weather emotional blackmail by the spadefull? Not to mention shady builders, wily politicians, spies, lies and the knee-buckling hotness of Samars intense eyes?

General Thoughts: I like Anuja Chauhan, I do! She, to me, is the only bright spark amongst the sea of scarily mediocre "Indian fiction authors" who have been unleashed upon us in the recent past! She does comic stuff well, writes about deliciously, wickedly hot Indian men and is, thankfully, grammatically sound! All good stuff right there! I have also read all of Ms. Chauhan's books, right from The Zoya Factor to, well, this one we'll be talking about right here. So, believe me, it was massively disappointing to read a highly anticipated book by Ms. Chauhan, which just failed to hit the mark! Disappointing! 

What I Liked: Here we go: 
  • It was good to see the 'pricey Thakur girls' back in action! Anji, Dabbu and Eeshu were amazing to read about once again! Binny, of course, as we learnt from the plot summary, is dead. Chandu is just plain weird and I didn't remember her being so mean, petty and greedy in 'Those Pricey Thakur Girls'.. So, anyway, like I said, it was great to re-visit the original bunch of Thakur girls and see where each of them is in their lives. Special treat- we get to see a little bit of Debjani-Dylan's family life! *grin* 
  • Samar Vir Singh is rather dreamy, not as dreamy as Dylan or Zain (Battle for Bittora) but is rather dreamy, nonetheless. I wish there was more of him in the book because he had an interesting voice, much better, than, say, Bonu Singh's! 
  • Zeeshan aka Zee, Samar's best friend and leading man, was also fun. He said and did witty things with a twist of wry humour- what's not to like? Please write a book about him, Ms. Chauhan! He seems like a fun bloke! 
  • The bits with all the Thakur family members working together to sell the house and outsmart their 'enemies' were fun! I, especially, enjoyed reading about the Trings- two old, smart and fun gents who rented the Annexe on the Thakur property. Each chapter featuring them was a laugh riot! 

What I Didn't Like: Quite a few things.. starting with...
  • The female protagonist- Bonu Singh. I have liked each and every one of Chauhan's leading ladies up until this book. I found it extremely difficult to relate to Bonu Singh- she is abrasive, a bit too touchy, immature, unreasonable and just plain annoying. I wish there was some context building on why she is the way she is- she hates her aunts just because she remembers her mom bitching about them to her when she was a kid. While I understand that if you have a dead parent, or in this case, two dead parents, you want to put them on a pedestal etc., but Bonu seems to be an immature idiot who refuses to form an opinion about her aunts for herself right until the very end. Plus, I don't see how someone like Samar- who is idealistic, earnest and talented- could fall for someone like Bonu Singh, who was just a punter of sorts. At the end of 'Those Pricey Thakur Girls', when there was an excerpt from this book, I found it surprising, even then, that Bonu was the protagonist for this book! She is so insipid and lackluster! 
  • There was too much focus on trying to sell the house. To be fair, that, perhaps, was the focus of the book, in any case. However, the blurb behind the book seemed to suggest a love story and there was just not enough time given to Samar-Bonu interactions for their falling madly in love with each other seem even plausible. True, they have known each other their whole lives and Bonu has always had a crush on Samar, but Samar felt no such thing.. and then BAM! he falls in love with Bonu, when there just weren't enough interactions between the two. 
  • I wish there was a little bit more on Samar's Bollywood life. The few bits and pieces we got to see were funny and entertaining- much more than, say, the bits we got to see about Bonu's tailoring business! 
  • I wish we got to spend more time with Eeshu and Steesh! They are a much cuter and fun couple than Bonu-Samar! 

Overall, The House That BJ Built was a highly unsatisfying read! Not at all like the warm and fuzzy feels one gets at the end of Chauhan's other books. For me, the highly unrelatable, not very interesting and just plain annoying female protagonist was the main problem. 

Rating: 2.5/5 

Read it if you want to know what the 'pricey' Thakur girls are up to. Don't go into it expecting one of Chauhan's trademark love stories.. you will be disappointed. 


krypton02 said...

Thanks for the review! Won't be buying it, but really interested to read the little bits about Debjani and Dylan in the book. :-)

Pooja T said...

I see what you mean. Borrow it from a friend or read it when you have nothing better to read. Sad when sequels disappoint so much :(