IN BEAUTIFUL DISGUISES by Rajeev Balasubramanyam


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A first-time author's talent for comic character portrayal makes something special out of this otherwise fairly conventional novel—albeit another in the ever-lengthening list of accomplished fiction out of India—about a dreamy young woman's fantasies of Hollywood stardom set against the humdrum realities of family, occupation, and—most unwelcome of all—an impending arranged marriage. Inspired by the glamorous image of Audrey Hepburn, the unnamed narrator escapes her imprisoning household (alcoholic father, submissive mother, choleric older sibling) and moves to (distinctly unglamorous) Delhi, where, thanks to the machinations of a most unlikely mentor, she finds work, love, and a featured role in an increasingly uproarious human comedy. Balasubramanyan, an English writer who seems to have put down roots in Narayan and early Naipaul, sensibly surrounds his ingenuous heroine with such sharply observed secondary characters as a lascivious housemaid, a self-important son and heir who thinks he's an irresistible Lothario, and—best of all—her brother Ravi, a manic-depressive "failure" who dominates and energizes every scene he’s in.

If the early Evelyn Waugh had been Anglo-Indian, he would have written In Beautiful Disguises.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 1-58234-127-3
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2001