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.