I fell in love with this cover when Penguin Random House sent me this book for review.
The picture here doesn’t do justice to it, the pink butterfly is just so much more vibrant in person. And there is a soft, velvety feel to it that almost makes you feel like you are touching an actual live butterfly.
So looks wise, this book just won me over. But what about the story? the writing?
The story is nothing too much to write home about. It is a coming of age saga of a girl who at 14 meets her Prince Charming. After that encounter, she is unable to get him out of her mind even though he is way too old, way too sophisticated, and just way out of her league. They make a connect in spite of that, and stay in touch through all the changes that they go through.
The story is pretty basic, but the writing style just won me over. There is a beauty and delicacy to the prose, that had me savoring the words, and laughing over them, and basically feeling for the protagonist Tara Mullick’s various trials. I don’t want to give out too many details but there were little literary surprises (such as a book review of this book itself) that was weaved so imaginatively into the story, which after a while no longer feels like a story, but like an autobiography.
I enjoyed all these little gems scattered throughout the book, and overall the writing, style, language, and the reading experience was just first class.
That said, somewhere towards the middle of the book, I started getting a little uncomfortable with the elitist tone of the book. Of course, it is made very clear at the start of the book that Tara Mullick comes from a very rich family. But even then, some details like her buying drugs from a US war veteran for 400 dollars (in cash) at a party seemed very tasteless.
Also, her hedonistic lifestyle felt stretched too thin for too long. The execution of Tara’s hedonism is similar in style to how Donna Tartt handled it in The Goldfinch and The Secret History, but I could stomach the hedonistic parts in Tartt’s books because of the strength of the underlying plot.
And so we come back to the plot.
For all the beautiful poetic quality in the writing, somewhere around the middle, it just felt like too much words over nothing. What little plot there was fizzled out into nothing, and too much remained unexplained. Again, no details, but Tara does something so suddenly and so out of character, and totally pointless, that I was left scratching my head.
A little less of her hedonistic lifestyle, and a little more fleshing out of the love story would have increased my appreciation of this book a lot more than it now is.
Still, I would count it as one of the better Indian novels that have come out this year so far, and I look forward to reading more books by this exciting new talent.
Huge thanks to Penguin Random House for sending me this book for review consideration.
You can also buy a copy of this book from Amazon.