15 June, 2013

Becoming Mrs Kumar

I've just finished reading another interesting novel. This one was called Becoming Mrs Kumar and was written by Heather Saville Gupta.

I bought the book largely because I knew of the author from my school days in Devon in the 1980s. I also have an interest in India. So Becoming Mrs Kumar sounded like it would be a good read from my point of view.

The book is written in the chick lit genre but from rather an unusual perspective--bored with her predictable life in London, the main protaganist Julia takes up a job in Mumbai. Underlying her decision is the realisation that she probably isn't going to find 'Mr Right' in London and that perhaps she'll fare rather better in India.

Gupta writes about Julia's experiences in the first person, taking us through the sights, sounds and smells of Mumbai; the reality of working as an ex pat in India; and a couple of failed relationships before Julia does, indeed, meet 'Mr Right', falls in love with and marries him, and so remains in India.

Given the first-person narrative and given Gupta's own background (ex pat who lived and worked for several years in Mumbai before meeting and marrying her Indian husband), I'm guessing that a large part of Becoming Mrs Kumar is autobiographical, or at least draws very heavily on the author's own experiences.

What struck me most about this novel was the kind of lifestyle that Julia/(Gupta?) lives in India. This life appears to be one of non-stop partying, late night binge drinking at expensive restaurants and clubs, and full on hedonism. One wonders how on earth Julia is able to hold down her high-powered job in advertising on practically no sleep and with the remnants of the previous night's alcohol sloshing around her body--especially given that she is no longer an ultra-young and resilient twenty-something.

This book certainly conveys one aspect of Indian life very well--the glitzy world in which rich and successful Indians mingle with equally rich and successful ex pats. However, it really doesn't give the reader a feeling for other aspects of Indian life, which, I'm guessing, would be much more familiar to the average Indian citizen.

Still, I enjoyed this book and certainly wanted to keep on reading until the end. And it's hardly fair to criticise an author for writing about what they know, rather than about what they don't!


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