March 7, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: 'All and Nothing' by Raksha Bharadia

The book tells us the stories of four characters apart from the primary character named Tina, a troubled wife who forces her four friends to come together at a house in Mahableshwar to solve the puzzle of their lives. Tina was a budding artist when she met Aditya, a successful executive with an MNC still to get over his first wife. After a series of successful dates, they marry and have two beautiful daughters but post-marriage Aditya is a changed man. And it is this change that Tina cannot fathom. She tries to get rid of the ghosts of the past but Aditya is not willing to let go of his first wife and ultimately all hell breaks loose.

Then there is Tina's cousin Upasana, who should make do with a wife-beating husband and find justifications in his actions. Tina's wife-club friend, Poorvi, who is distraught at not being able to give her husband's family a boy as an heir. Tina's co-worker friend, Manas, who is troubled at having lost his love due to his own doings after seven years of their live-in relationship. Tina's old friend, Kriya, who has always been under her father's shadow and now is a guilty woman after her best-friend committed suicide. And then there is Prashant or Prats, who is Aditya's maternal uncle and only guardian and also Tina's confidante. All these individuals are headed in different directions until a letter from their friend, Tina pulls them towards Mahableshwar where their caller is herself missing but she has left them a letter each and in it, they must discover their lives and move on. The common aspect is that all the characters are tied down to their past in someway or the other and can't seem to let go off it, can't seem to look ahead to a better future and it is Tina, who undertakes the responsibility to do so for them. As she tries to come to terms with Aditya's betrayal, this is more of a challenge for her. Is she successful in taking it up? You'll have to read the book to find out.

This is primarily a story of relationships and tying those loose ends tight. This book shows us the errors of the human heart and mind in an impeccable manner. Real characters highlight the story, making it easy to identify with them. Well-thought of situations and problems that we daily encounter in life make it more endearing. Perhaps the author's experience as the editor of 'The Chicken Soup' series has helped her immensely in doing so because these too are the stories of real people. It's a good pacy read though sometimes the inclusion of Bengali in between is not really necessary and makes the reader skip those parts. The book is divided into four parts and the first two parts are quite pacy though the book tends to slow down toward the middle and the ending. Nevertheless, the latter are interesting too, without meaning to take away anything from the author. She has of course chosen to talk about social evils, martial discontentment and relationships and she excels in doing so in her own unique way with an interesting third-person narrative. The plot is nothing extraordinary, simple and sweet and aimed at giving the story some pace. The settings chosen reinforce that a woman has written this book and rightly so. 

Courtesy: Infibeam news
The author brings you back to the story just when you are on the brink of closing the book for the day, to continue reading it later. It's not a mammoth epic, just around 220 odd pages or so, easily read in a single-sitting like I did. Of course, intelligently thought of, short chapters aid that cause. It is commercial fiction and tends to get literary towards the end but again depends on how the reader absorbs it. Surely one of the better ones this year. I say 4.3/5!

Get it from Infibeam.



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