Book Review: An Incurable Insanity

Part of Debut Indian Writers Challenge 2013An Incurable Insanity Book Cover (1)

An Incurable Insanity is the story of two people bound by an arranged marriage where one party is all set to start a new life, while the other never wanted to get married in the first place!

It is a tale that most of us would have heard before from friends or relatives of those getting married to fellow Indians that have made a life for themselves in America – a tale where the male or the female entity of the setup is in a relationship and wants to spend his/her life with their respective boyfriend or girlfriend but then is forced into an arranged marriage with a person of their parents choice. It is the saga of how two such people learn to let go of their pasts, discover each other and in the process, fall in love and start a new life together.

The book started off with elan; we are introduced to the shy bride Ruhi, who is rudely shocked when her husband, Shaan confesses his plans to end the marriage at the earliest opportunity as she was never the one he intended to marry. Like any  respectable desi bahu, Ruhi tries to salvage the situation by suggesting that they stay together for a limited amount of time so that the split would seem real, while secretly hoping to save her marriage. Thus begins a new life in a new place with new friends – a place where glittering stars, dreams, ambitions and power take center stage – Los Angeles. Will Ruhi succeed in making her marriage work? Will Shaan be able to let go of the demons of his past, find love and start a beautiful new life again?

The first half of the book was a quick read; the chemistry of the lead characters was sizzling and as a reader I was curious to understand how two people pushed into a setup like the one they have, would fare. Just when I had about enough of their squabbles (which was a part of their discovery process) and expected that the story was going to take a turn to move in a direction where everything would be explained and sorted out, I was confronted with more chapters filled with more squabbling, encounters filled with sexual tension, a husband who kept trying to make things better and a wife who just didn’t want to forgive and forget!! With this out of the way, the novel gradually took a turn like one of those K titled Hindi soap operas with the other woman trying to break up a couple falling in love, and then the book jumped into a phase which resembled and ended like a Karan Johar hindi movie….

The characters have been sketched quite well, though Ruhi seemed like a drama queen (the part where she battles physically with the other woman in her imagination was like a scene out of a movie) and Shaan comes across as an over protective and jealous husband; his character seemed to be jealous of even an old man speaking to his wife! The author has done well to introduce some American characters into the plot and she seems to have nailed down the work culture, mannerisms and the American humor quite well. The book does seem to be filled with cliches when it comes to the idea of Indian bahus and daughters. Again, at the risk of sounding repetitive, the characters, the way they dressed and behaved seemed very Bollywoodish to me! We have a a heroine whose room is filled with her photographs and stuffed toys ala Nisha in Hum Aapke hai Kaun, a new bride who waits for her husband to get back from work, draped in a saree at home in L.A, makes paranthas and special adrak waali chai every morning, sits at her mother-in-law’s feet, puts on a show of being in a loving marriage for her friend, takes off on an international flight on a whim, battles with her emotions in a very dramatic manner often and changes personality like Jekyll and Hyde! Then we have an extremely good looking and intelligent husband, who follows his wife leaving behind everything and manages to look cute sleeping on a teddy bear and makes dreamy statements like L.A. chaloge kya? (Will you come to L.A?) to his wife who is decked up in a heavy lehenga in the midst of Delhi traffic!

This apart, the language and the style of writing were very simple and the book was pretty easy to read.  The author has been pretty detailed oriented and has taken a lot of effort in describing the complex characters, their emotions and behavior, what makes them behave and feel a certain way and of course life in America. I was particularly impressed with a scene, where Ruhi pulls out cooking vessels from inside the oven, which is what most people living in apartments do out here as the American kitchens, especially the ones in rented apartments are comparable to a match box.

A lovely book if you are a romantic at heart. A good attempt by a debut author though the book would have been more enjoyable if it had been shorter.

Title:  An Incurable Insanity
Author:  Simi.K.Rao
Publisher:  Tate Publishing
Pages:  376
Genre:  Fiction/ Romance
Rating:  4 of 5
Reviewed for:  Author