Thursday, 30 November 2017

Book Review: A Hundred Little Flames by Preeti Shenoy.

Book: A Hundred Little Flames

Author: Pretti Shenoy

Pages: 386

Publisher: Westland

Read On: Paperback

How Long it Took Me To Read: 3 days

Plot Summary: Sometimes, a journey back is a step forward. 

When 26-year-old Ayan is sent to live with his grumpy old grandfather Gopal Shanker, in a tiny village, in Kerala, he is understandably devastated. What can a sleepy, idyllic village without even Internet connectivity offer a young man? 
To make matters worse, Jairaj, Ayan’s domineering father has his own plans and is determined to have his way. Soon, Ayan has to come to terms with the hard realities of life and the blindness of greed as he and Gopal Shanker learn that life can sometimes unravel in unanticipated ways. 
A young man, whose life lies ahead of him. An old man, whose life is all in the past. And a few months that change everything. A Hundred Little Flames is a charming account of a relationship across generations and also a meditative look at the issues of old people.

General Thoughts: This is my third book by Preeti Shenoy and this is hands down my favourite book from her. This book was kindly sent to me by the Publisher- Westland for review, but the thoughts and opinions are all my own.

Also this book came in the cutest package with a letter written in invisible ink that reveals itself when held over a flame! How freaking cool!!! TBH, Westland always sends really innovative and creative book mail. A couple of years ago they sent out the coolest package before Amish's new book came out.

Things I Liked:

1. I loved the premise, story and the style in which this tale unfolded. It was seriously a joy to read. From the very beginning this book had me hooked. I was very invested in the story and where it was headed as well as the events of the past. It was a very engaging book from the word go. I also enjoyed the writing.

2. This is essentially a story about two generations getting to know each other and building a bond. I love books with grandparents in it. I was super close to my Thamma (paternal grandmother) and books with grandparents in it just have my heart. And with all of my grandparents now gone, these books take me back to the time I spent with them and all the memories I cherished.

3. Ayan Shanker- our protagonist is a regular millennial in some ways, battling career and quarter life crisis he is trying to 'find himself' and his real goal in life. Bogged down by a demanding and bully of a father, your heart goes out to him. He is well written character and comes across as real and relatable. I really liked him and rooted for him.

4. The other main pillar of this story is Gopal Shankar, Ayan's grandfather who at first seems like a typically grumpy and lonely senior citizen and it's heartbreaking to think of him living all alone in a giant, empty house. But as the book progresses, we get to see a whole other side to him. To delve into his past and see the ups and downs of his life, especially his married life was very interesting.

5. I loved that this book showed not one but two rocky father-son relationships. Sometimes family is placed in this exalted and almost reverential position in our society and in films and books. But this is not always true. Some family ties are some of the most toxic things in this world. And we need more books and films to talk about this and address this bitter truth. Ayan's father is a monster bully, he is demanding and cruel to both his father and son. But he is real, sadly, all to familiar to some people who spend their whole lives under the thumb of their parents. This aspect of the book was infuriatingly good!

6. A large portion of this book is written in diary form and this was very enjoyable and something I always enjoy.

7. There is also a sort of mystery element in this book, no not in the thriller way, but a slight mystery about certain events of the past and how they've affected this family.

8. The love story in this book is done really, really well. It isn't over the top, dramatic or melodramatic or sugary. The depth of feeling and strength of the bond was depicted marvellously.

9. The setting of this book was another favourite part of this book- Kerala and life in a small, sleepy village was just so soothing. I also really loved all the people in this village and how kind and helpful and good they were. I always, always enjoy reading about good people. A portion of the book is also set in Pondicherry- which happens to be one of my favourite places- and I really enjoyed the familiar descriptions of the place.

10.  I loved every single minute I spent with this book. It had me hooked from the beginning- Ayan's life in Pune and his journey to Kerala and all the amateur sleuthing he does into the past of his grandfather and all the secrets big and small were all very engaging and I didn't want to put the book down.

Rating: 4.5/5

A really enjoyed this book and I highly recommend it. 

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