In her debut literary romance novel, S. relays the story of a vulnerable young woman who indulges in an ongoing affair with a married co-worker.
All it takes is a brief phone conversation for Indian journalist Anjali to fall for an editor from the Delhi office of her newspaper. Soon after, she professes, “Though she had not conjured him consciously, Siddharth had already claimed a prominent place in her mind.” From here, as in all tragic tales and despite the warnings of friends, there is no turning back. The two correspond through intimate emails, and they eventually consummate their relationship. The romance bears the hallmark qualities shared by most affairs. Anjali becomes increasingly paranoid, jealous and insecure. The timeless conundrum of the other woman arises: If the man she loves is already a cheater, how can she trust he’ll be faithful to her? The answer is: She cannot. The love affair has little emotional arc, and Anjali herself lacks nuance as a character. The heroine’s foolishness sometimes stretches credulity. “What was troubling him?” she wonders about her married lover who has a family. “Was it some issue at the home or office?” Apparently, Anjali’s unhappy past accounts for her poor decision-making; she grew up in an abusive home and has had a series of bad experiences with men. Siddharth is the first man she’s loved, but her poor choice reveals itself immediately. The writing itself has a gentle fluidity, particularly in detailed descriptions of setting. These moments could be more effective if they reflected the heroine’s emotional state. As is, the thin storyline doesn’t propel the novel.
Routine in its unfolding and old-fashioned in its portrayals of gender identity.