Thursday, September 4, 2014

#BookReview : Scandalous Housewives: Mumbai by Madhuri Banerjee

On the jacket:

Meet women from Sapphire Towers, a residential high-rise Mumbai where life is lost to a clockwork routine. Although everything appears calm on the outside, there are those housewives who yearn for change and joys in their mundane life. One gets into a forbidden relationship following an irresistible lust, another gets addicted to kinky sex and ends up in misery, yet another woman falls in love with a young man, a friend of her own son and one more lady is holding within a secret that could probably put an end to her marriage. One ominous day, an anonymous email comes in to the inboxes of all Sapphire Towers residents and leads to unimaginable consequences! Discover what happens to the dilemmas of these women in this unputdownable novel.


A few months ago I had read Madhuri Banerjee's Advantage Love and quite liked it. When Scandalous Housewives came by mail, along with half a dozen other books, I picked this one up first. Now, reading through this book, I had two very strong emotions. Till about page 100, I was a bit bored because no scandal was happening and the story read straight out of the pages of Indian tele soaps. But from around page 125, things picked up and how! The climax, and the anti-climax, both were unexpected and the story ends with a bang. And once I'd finished reading the book, it made sense why the first hundred odd pages seemed so slow.

Four friends - Gita, a housewife whose husband and inlaws dislike her because she bore two girls; Sarita, whose inlaws are misers and she believes her teenaged kids need all the freedom they desire; Natasha, an ex-model whose husband is a wife beater and daughter, a spoilt brat; and Aarti, a working mother who bears the guilt of the secret she is keeping from her family. So technically, they are not all housewives. The are the best of friends and while they share a whatsapp group where they chat up as and when needed, they also meet for a couple of hours, every evening. They are each other's source of entertainment, power, strength and gossip.

Yet, they are all keeping some secrets about themselves from each other. While one's child was fathered not by her husband but by her ex, another is having an affair with a boy much younger in age. While the third has kinky sex with her husband, which the entire family seems to be aware of, the fourth is in a forbidden relationship with her brother-in-law.

But one day, it all comes out in the open. Somebody is out to bring their secrets out in the open and that will be the real test to friendships to test. Will the women survive this storm? Or will they and their friendships succumb? I had started reading thinking this would be something like a Jackie Collins novel, racy and scandalising but then, for a story to be set in middle class India, this is about the most scandalising a plot can get. I finished reading the book in 2-3 hours, yes, it's a page turner no doubt. I did have mixed feelings during the reading, but once done, I would recommend it, if you are looking for a quick read.

Rating: ****/5

[This review is for Rupa Publications. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.]

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