Monday, 9 January 2017

Book Review: Kathputli by Ushasi Sen Basu

Book: Kathputli

Author: Ushasi Sen Basu

Pages: 282

Read On: Kindle

How Long it Took Me To Read: 2 days

Plot Summary: One woman. Two lives. Three generations. Four places.

Chitrangda Chatterjee, 32, has been moving from one dead-end offshore job to another. Kathputli’s story begins after Chitrangda has quit her latest job and sets out in search of the perfect story for her Great Indian Novel.

This takes her to a family reunion of her grandmother’s clan, where a story of the long-lost daughter of a once-powerful Zamindar family begins to take shape. 

Unravelling the mystery of Mala’s disappearance a few years after the brutal murder of the boy she loved becomes an obsession for Chitrangda. One which draws Chitrangda out of her shell; and introduces her to the unaccustomed joys of getting to know new people and places.  What emerges, however, undermines the very foundation of Chitrangda’s understanding of her own family. 

The novel goes back and forth between Chitrangda’s present-day search for all the missing pieces of Mala’s story and the story itself, set in 1940s Kolkata.
General Thoughts: A premise that instantly drew me in. A book I read in 2 sittings and very quickly.

Things I Liked:

1. I really enjoyed the writing and the story telling style of the author. I also really appreciated that this book talked a lot about mental health and how important it is talk about it and get help when it's needed.

2. I love time-split narratives. I love the element of slight mystery and intrigue they bring into any story.

3. A Bengali family is for obvious reasons (me being a Bengali myself) is a setting I always enjoy thoroughly enjoy. This one was no different. And in this book we got a Bengali family set-up in 1938 through the 40s and one in relative recent times. I enjoyed both of these set-ups a lot, especially a zamindari family in 1938.

4. I liked Chitrangada aka Kuhu. She is very relatable, someone in her early 30s who is still confused about where her life is headed and what she wants to with her professional life. I feel like a lot of us know what that feels like and it was so nice to see her make a change in her life and pursue her passions.

5. I loved, loved the 1940s bits of the book. I am a huge fan of anything that is nostalgic and anything historic always has my heart and this book was no different.

6. Lata was a delicious, a deliciously devious character to get to know.

7. I loved that a main theme in this book was consequences to our actions. A prank done out of childish malice could result in a deadly consequence. And a decision to leave your home when you were young and perhaps didn't think it through and maybe regretting it later was shown so well.

8. Mala was the best, best part of this book for me. Her in the 40s and how her life changes and how hard she worked to make a success of her unconventional life in the 1950s was heartening to read about. I adored her. I didn't understand some of her decisions but I really liked her.

9. I loved reading about the little family reunion in Ajoypur. It reminded me so much of my family and how fun it is when all the various branches of the family come together. There is much love and warmth and camaraderie and sometimes an underlying bit of petty family politics.

10. The book takes you so many places. The past, present and literally various places-- Bangalore, Calcutta and London. I love when books do that.

Things I Didn't Like: 

Largely this was a book I enjoyed immensely. The only thing I found a little off was the ending. I thought it was a little rushed and a tad bit unsatisfying.

Rating: 4/5

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