Title- Circle of Fate
Author- Prita Warrier
Price- Rs 295
'The author Prita Warrier was born in Cochin in 1960 and has an M Phil in English Literature from Madras University. She lives with her husband, the writer Shashi Warrier in Mangalore.' As soon as I read the author intro from the book's back cover, I developed great expectations from it. I started reading the book and couldn't help comparisons with a much darker modern day classic The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. This novel too is set in Kerala and is about Malayalis. The dark humourous undertone is quite present in this one too. I guess the only aspect where it falters is characterization. The characters in this one seem to be in a perpetual hormone soup and their opinions are too fickle to be trusted. The protagonists are Devaki and Sheela, grandmother and granddaughter duo who are fighting their inner demons as they are placed in uncomfortable and sometimes inhospitable surroundings.
Language-wise, the book is impeccable. The plot is rich and the novel reads at a lay pace with multiple revelations and amusements. It is one of those perfect books that do not leave your conscience. But as you finish around two-third of the book, there is a certain restlessness developing in your conscience because there is no sense of an ending developing and new characters are still getting introduced and older ones are still being ironed out. So, if you are an impatient reader, you will be tempted to skip a few pages and read the eventual ending of the novel.
Amaryllis- the publishers have done a brilliant job this time. I had begun viewing them as niche publishers for typical commercial fiction or Punjab-based literature but they have turned everything around by publishing this book about the dilemmas of an NRI and the struggles of a progressive girl in conservative Kerala.
The saving grace for the lazy pace of the book is the mystery behind the story of tussle behind Devaki and her son Naresh. It is very well guarded and is impossible to predict for the reader. It lends the much needed pace to the book and also keeps the plot coherent.
The vivid descriptions of the yesteryear are a delicious treat and the author needs to be commended for the same. If only the author drew more rigid lines around her characters, the book would have been perfect for me. For example. if in the plot, a character is rude once, then few pages later, he is likable; then skip 20 pages and again he turns again into a flirtatious jerk- it takes away the credibility from the descriptions. After a while, I was numb from all the emotions and was ready for unpredictable acts by characters.
I have to put in a special word here for the humour in the author's writing. The wit is uncanny. The fine nuances of day-to-day instances have been well-brought out and are presented with much subtlety.
I give it 4 stars. ****/5