Book Review: Barnabas

About the author:
Sangeeta Nambiar is a playwright and theatre director with a background in television and films. She has worked extensively in Delhi and Mumbai, writing, directing and producing for Indian television. In 2001, she moved to Singapore and began to explore her love for theatre. She has written and directed five plays and is currently working on her first feature film.

Introduction to the book:
British India, the summer of 1942, Bombay. From the leafy lanes of Wodehouse Road a British woman goes missing from her home. Her husband, Thomas Stanton, wants to keep the police out of the loop and thus calls in Bombay’s first Private Detective, Barnabas Mehta. But that isn’t enough to solve the mystery for him. His search for Rose leads him to the bylanes of Girgaum where he finds a murder to solve and webs of deceit to traverse. Who would murder Rose so brutality? Family secrets and the machinations of an evil mind – they are all there for Barnabas Mehta to unveil!

Overview and Analysis:
The book has a narrative that flows very easily and rhythmically. Although the story line is quite predictable, yet the plot keeps the reader get along very well. The book is successful in arousing the curiosity in you to know the end just like it is with detective serials. ‘Barnabas’ gives you a feel of old-time detective serials.
The writer’s experience of the theatre also adds to the interesting narrative. Even in the often obvious state of affairs there is a dose of surprises and revelations too.
A very positive aspect of the simple and creative style of writing of Nambiar is that each and every character has been carved out very carefully. None of them has been neglected.
The book definitely serves to be a good read.

Book Review: ‘Sunlit Hearts’

Everything is wrong and yet nothing is wrong. Every second character in ‘Sunlit Hearts’ is indulging in infidelity and still manages to have our sympathies. This is how the author, Meenu Mehrotra manages to weave the web of gripping narrative of the novel. We have relationship of three couples presented before us in the novel, and all the three give us different solutions to the relationship troubles. The author does not pass any judgement over any of the options. 
The mainstream story is of Medha’s unrequited love for Nikhil, and then her affair with him after marital dissatisfaction with Rishi (Nikhil too is married to Priyanka at that time). At one point of time Medha bares her heart out to her close friend, Sonal and writes: “She listened to my woes…She had always thought that I had adjusted well in this marriage, in spite of the major divide in my temperament and Rishi’s. My frustration was probably the tip of the iceberg. There was more to this marriage that was demolishing its sanctity.” 
We also have a view of the influence of extra-marital affairs upon the children – Yash (Medha and Rishi’s son) and Neha (Nikhil and Priyanka’s daughter). The author does not neglect this aspect of child psychology.
 Then we also have as a small sub-plot the story of Rajan, Nikil’s friend. He had got divorced from his first wife, Radhika and got married to Malvika. In his case, it is a revival of relationship with the divorced wife after an unsatisfying attempt at marrying second time. Rajan met Radhika and revived this connection and in his own words he “could not resist her. It’s a beautiful relationship. We have got connected.” The reason mentioning this very small part of the novel here is that Rajan-Malvika and Rajan-Radhika relationship adds a third dimension to a way of sorting out relationships. 
The author traces the developments psychologically, how they influence the characters in their own unique way on each. Credit is deserved by the author for sensitive characterization, keeping in mind various aspects. In Medha’s character we feel a lady torn between being a lover and a mother, while trying to snub the wife in her. The characters are life-like and nowhere do we as readers feel that there is something extra-terrestrial about them. 
The plot is woven very beautifully and gradually unfolds itself with grace and charm, while keeping intact the interest of the reader. The pace of development is very appropriate; the narration is neither rushy nor too sluggish. Undoubtedly, the book makes an interesting reading.