Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Book Review: The Rabbit and The Squirrel by Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi

Book: The Rabbit and the Squirrel

Author: Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi

Pages: 65

Read: Hardcover (ARC send by Penguin Random House)

Read in: Half an hour (or less)

Plot Summary: The Squirrel's greatest joy is dancing in the forest with the Rabbit-her beloved friend and equal of heart. While the duo is inseparable, fate has other ideas: the feisty Squirrel is forcibly married to a wealthy boar and the solitary Rabbit enlists in a monastery.

Years later, a brief, tragic reunion finds them both transformed by personal defeats. And yet, to each other, they are unchanged, and their private world-where sorrow registered as rapture and wit concealed loss-is just how they had left it.

A story of thwarted love, and an ode to the enduring pleasures of friendship, The Rabbit and the Squirrel is a charmed fable for grown-ups, in which one life, against all odds, is fated for the other.

General Thoughts: I've read both of Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi's novels and loved them immensely.  He is a gifted writer and his books linger on long after you've turned the last page. So when I saw he had a new book out, I knew I had to read it. So I was very chuffed when Penguin India kindly offered to send me a copy. I read it as soon as it got to me. Thank you Penguin! I really appreciate it. 
FYI, I cannot recommend Shanghvi's work enough. Pick them up, if you haven't already. 

Things I Liked: 
  • The Rabbit & The Squirrel is a simple yet profound story about life, love, friendship and the weight of societal expectations on human beings. 
  • The story is one that most young adults can relate to- the Squirrel is a free spirited young woman (er, squirrel), who is not ready for marriage, most of all for an arranged marriage. She spends her evenings hanging out with the Rabbit (her very best friend) and partying away her sorrows. The Rabbit is footloose and fancy free.. hooking up with everyone and partying his life away. The Squirrel's parents want her to get married to a rich Boar, who she thinks is a massive BORE! So, the story follows the journeys of these two friends- who are at that age when conventional wisdom demands that they "settle down". 
  • The story is brought to live not only by the writing, which is beautiful but also by beautiful illustrations hand-drawn by Stina Wirsén. Here are some samples: 

  • The book meditates a lot on the meaning of life. The Rabbit goes and joins a monastery and the Squirrel tries her hand at domesticity- neither comes close to unearthing the true meaning of life. Their quest for meaning is something a much younger of me could have related to. 
  • The friendship between the Squirrel and the Rabbit is bittersweet. They understand each other, love each other and can be real with each other in a way that they can't be with anyone else in their lives. The tragedy, however, is that even though the Squirrel knows the Rabbit so well, she ends up believing some rumours about him without feeling the need to ask him for the truth. 
Things I Didn't Like:
  • This is a melancholy-inducing book. So, treat that as a trigger warning of sorts :) You need to be in a certain frame of mind in order to really enjoy this book. I was in a bit of a festive mood when I read it, so it didn't reach me the way it would have had I read it when I was feeling more pensive. So in some ways it made me feel just like the author's previous works did. Shanghvi writes beautifully but he will break your heart. Be warned. :) 

Rating: 3.5/5 

No comments: