While each of these books is an amazing read, and I enjoyed them both greatly, there are two reasons why I’m reviewing them in one post:
a) They’re both quite short. And Every Morning the Way home Gets Longer and Longer is a novella, and The Private Life of Mrs Sharma, though a novel, isn’t a very long one.
b) They both take only a couple of hours to read, but take some time to process. They’re itty-bitty powerhouses!
And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer
Ever since I read his Britt-Marie Was Here, I’ve been a fan of Fredrik Backman’s writing. In And Every Morning the Way home Gets Longer and Longer, Backman has penned an emotional, moving story about goodbyes.
It is primarily about the relationship between an old man suffering from Alzheimers/demetia, his son, Ted and his grandson, Noah. A lot of the story takes place in a town square in the man’s head, where all his precious memories are stored, and which is getting smaller everyday. As he struggles to explain his illness to his grandson, he takes a walk through his life–his first meeting with his wife, their first house, his relationship with his son, Ted, etc.
Backman writes emotions beautifully, and here his words make the emotions three-dimensional. The old man’s grief and confusion are palpable, as is the grandson’s love for his grandfather. I had a lump in my throat when I was done!
No words do justice to this powerful little book about love, life and having to let go prematurely. Just go read!
The Private Life of Mrs Sharma
Ok, seriously, whistle-podu for this amazing book! It certainly was nothing like I expected!
The story, told in first-person is of a middle-class Indian woman, Renuka Sharma. She lives with her son and in-laws, and her husband is in Dubai, where she insists he works so that the financial situation of her family can be improved. She wants her son, like very other Indian mother, to do an MBA and work in a posh office. She herself is a receptionist in a doctor’s office. One day, she meets a man, Vineet, while travelling to work on the Delhi metro. One thing leads to another, and soon she is having an extra-marital affair. The rest of the book deals with her affair, her relationship with her son and husband. And honestly, this description hardly does credit to this book, because it is so much more!
It is an examination of modern day India, stuck with one foot in the past and one in the future. It navigates the tug of war between traditional values and the need to keep up with a changing society.
I admire how Ratika Kapur has written Renuka. I for one, disliked her from the very start, because she comes across the sort of ‘aunty’ we all know–the one who is quick to judge others but blind to her own faults. Mrs Sharma is deeply flawed, but even as I disliked her, Kapur’s masterful writing ensured that I (albeit grudgingly) empathized with her.
I also applaud the author for her exploration of female sexuality. It is a topic that is often pushed under the carpet, or is attributed to “bold” women. But here is a woman, like so many others, who admits that she touches herself and who looks forward to having sex with her lover and husband!
And the ending…oh, that ending…I never saw it coming! Ratika Kapur pulls out the ground from under your feet in the last few pages, leaving the reader absolutely gobsmacked!
A fantastic debut novel, The Private Life of Mrs Sharma is a must-read!
FTC disclaimer: I received ARCs of both these books from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for this honest review.
Fredrik Backman- http://www.simonandschuster.com/authors/Fredrik-Backman/411545926
Ratika Kapur- http://www.bloomsbury.com/author/ratika-kapur/