I usually don't do book reviews, which is a shame because as an author, I really value each and every review for my own book. I think I've written only about books like the Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, bypassing even writing about the wonderful Room and several others that I've really liked. I thought I should try and correct this, especially for a book that I picked up at the World Book Fair in February - Anuja Chauhan's Those Pricey Thakur Girls.
Disclosure - Anuja was nice enough to launch 'Just Married Please Excuse' last year and therefore I may have a rather positive predisposition towards her. Often as I was reading the book, I found myself smiling and thinking 'Hey, I KNOW this person.'
But the fact is Those Pricey Thakur Girls really stood out for me because I could so relate to the characters. The lead character, Debjani Thakur isn't one of those princessy-perfect types - the ''most beautiful of the five sisters'' - in fact, she's often compared unfavorably to the far more beautiful, Anjini. But there's something very endearing and human about Dabbu - and the fact that the book is set in the 1980s really took me back to the good old days. I could so relate to things like 'He wants to know what Shampoo I'm using? We only have one in this country - Halo!' Yeah, baby. That was the 80s all right!
Apart from relatability and an interesting storyline, I liked the amount of detail and research that Anuja's clearly put into creating this rather convincing world. It looks like it took a lot of work to figure out what being with Doordarshan was really like back in the day.
The hero Dylan is also the kind of stuff every one of us enjoys reading about - it's nice that unlike other picture perfect heroes, he has his human moments too, particularly when a dog attacks him and then a cat pees on him in quick succession.
What I enjoyed most is the humour in the book. I was truly surprised at the dry, matter of fact way it was woven into various parts of the story. My favourite character was Gulgul Bhaisahib, whose 'bouffant goes a little phuss' when his uncle asks him about his law exam preparations. I would have liked to see more of him in the second half of the book, although the fact is that he was a side character, so I suppose it couldn't be helped. I found the chapters rather long, especially to read at one go - but given that I read it every night for a few days before bedtime until I finished ( despite various other things to do) so overall, it worked very well for me - it's easy to read, relaxing, simple and of course, very well-written to say the least.
It's not as if the story is totally unpredictable, but there're enough twists and turns to prevent you from figuring it all out. In any case, it's well put together and more importantly an enjoyable read even if you do think you know what's coming next.
In short - this is one book I really would recommend. And this is me, recommending it.
Anuja - hats off! And so looking forward to the sequel to this one - was very happy to read about the upcoming 'The House that BJ Built'