Author: Ruchi Singh
Jugnu by Ruchi Singh reminded me what absolute joy a well-written romance can be. Yet, to call this one just a romance would a bit of an injustice. While a love story is central to the narrative there is lots more to enjoy and savour.
Out on parole Zayd Abbas Rizvi heads off to Kasuali with his laptop for some peace and quiet. The plan is to keep to himself and avoid trouble of any kind. He finds lodging at a guest house run by the petite, ghost-chasing, sad-eyed Ashima, mom to a delightful three year old. Soon enough he forms bonds not just with Ashima but also with other residents of the guest house. And then quite unavoidably, he gets embroiled in their affairs even as he tries to figure out the truth about Ashima’s husband.
To begin with I loved the setting of the book – the quiet, picturesque hill town of Kasuali. I find the setting matters to me… a lot – it predisposes me to like or dislike a book and here it is just perfect for what the author has in store.
Like I mentioned, Jugnu isn’t just a love story. It is also the tale of two individuals with each of their stories so well written that you would want to reach out for a prequel, or maybe two. I would have liked to know the Ashima before she met Zayd, her life with Rohit and also the Zayd in his earlier life, his troubled childhood, his life with his girlfriend and his prison experiences. However, all we get are intriguing mentions that leave us asking for more.
Other than the protagonists, there are a host of other characters, each lovingly crafted, each likeable and/or relatable.
What I liked best about the book was that unlike most new age romance novels with their insta-love tracks, the love story here builds slowly and steadily. Stilted conversations move on to shared silences and from there to a gradual appreciation of each other – from indifference, to friendship to love. That is perhaps what made it believable. And of course there also was just the barest touch of romantic magic. The love story retains its charm without taking away from the intensity of either of the protagonists’ previous relationships – that couldn’t have been easy to write.
Beyond the characters there are enough twists and turns in this well-woven story to keep you happily turning the pages.
Endnote: This one is a refreshing wholesome romance perfect for a rainy day. I say pick it up.
Disclaimer: I was given a kindle copy of the book by the author in exchange for an unbiased review.