Category Archives: #microreview

The Silent Patient #MicroReview

Book: The Silent Patient
Author: Alex Michaelides

This is going to be a micro review because the whole world has read this one and loved it. I want to put this out here for people who’re waiting for a review from the wholeworld+1 th reader. Here I am.

Six years ago Alicia, an artist of repute, tied her husband to a chair, shot him six times in the face, slit her wrists and waited for the police. She then went quiet and refused to speak. Six years later she is housed at The Grove, a facility for mentally disturbed patients and she still hasn’t spoken, not one word.

Enter Theo Faber, a criminal psychotherapist. He gives up his job at a thriving facility to come to The Grove. He is intrigued by Alicia, to the point of obsession and is determined to get her to talk. For that, he is ready to flout all rules and go to any lengths. He looks for clues in her past and in her art, he investigates her relationships with her dead husband, her agent, her friends and family.

All this while, he also struggles to hold together his troubled marriage.

If you like thrillers, you might also like Lock Every Door.

Having heard a lot about the book, I had put aside an entire weekend for it and I’m glad I did because it turned out to be unputdownable.

The story unravels through Theo’s narration in the first person and, parallelly, through pages of Alicia’s diary. We come to know that Alicia had a difficult past and suffered from some form of depression. However, her relationship with her husband wasn’t troubled at all. That’s when we begin to wonder why she shot him. Did she discover something that led her to take the drastic step? And also, Did she shoot him at all?

The suspense builds up through the pages as Theo begins to unravel the layers of her mind.

Even though I caught on to the end a little before it came, I found it spectacular. That’s just how it should be in a psychological thriller. And then I wanted to re-read the entire book with the end in mind.

Last thought: A pacey psychological thriller that’s worth your time. Do read it if you haven’t already.

Joining the #TBRChallenge2020 hosted by @shalzmojo and @she_booked_it for the prompt ‘A Crime Thriller’.

The Bell Jar, Metamorphosis #MicroReview

Here are two books both critically acclaimed, yet both didn’t work for me.

Book: The Bell Jar
Author: Sylvia Plath

I picked up The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath because it’s said to be a modern-day classic and also because it’s the only book written by the author. When an author writes just one book, it is often close to her/his true self and that’s a treat to read.

The book introduces us to the bright young Esther Greenwood who is in New York on a writing scholarship. It traces her journey as she tries to fit in, to do things expected of her but fails. She finds she can neither be a true blue society girl nor a ‘good’ girl. Flitting somewhere in the middle, she loses her real self. She tries to fit into societal moulds but feels suffocated by them(like she’s under a bell jar, hence the name of the book). Then on begins her spiral into depression, slowly and surely, as she lets go of one opportunity after another. Finally she finds herself in a mental facility, struggling to regain her balance.

I found it hard to connect with Esther. She is so confused about what she wants from life. Perhaps one needs to be in a specific state of mind to understand and appreciate her, perhaps one needs to have experienced some of that depression to truly empathise. Or perhaps Plath spilt her own disinterest in life into the book. That might be a  testimony of the honesty with which it is written but it renders this a hard book to read.

Book: The Metamorphosis
Author: Franz Kafka

This is as unusual a book as they can get. It talks about Gregor Samsa who wakes up one morning to find he has turned into a vermin. Interestingly, we don’t even know whether it was actually a vermin or an insect of some kind because the book is originally written in German and Kafka is known to use words that keep baffling translators.

Moving on, Gregor’s change scares and disgusts his parents and Grete, his sister. Grete, initially shows some concern leaving food for him and at least noticing if he was eating or not. She even tries to make his room a little comfortable for this new version of him. His father has to begin going to work again as does Grete while his mother has to take up sewing assignments to run the house. A depressed Gregor gives up eating and finally meets his end and his family moves on living together happily.

This is a less than 100 page book but boy, it proved hard to read. Like The Bell Jar, I couldn’t empathise with Gregor, perhaps because I come from an entry difference space as compared to him. The book reflects Kafka’s dissatisfaction with his own life, stuck in a nine-to-five job routine which, he felt, took away from his true love which was writing. It also shows his real life alienation from his family. With that background, I could get some understanding of the book but it still remained too dark for my taste.

Eating Wasps #microreview

Book: Eating Wasps
Author: Anita Nair

You know what’s the best feeling in the world? To pick up a book you’ve not heard of, to pick it up without any expectations, any background, any social media hoohaa. And then to find in it a story that by turns hits you hard, touches you, empowers you. That’s what Eating Wasps did for me.

I was driven to read it simply by its stunningly gorgeous cover. Then the opening line reeled me in:

“On the day I killed myself, it was clear and bright.” 

How can you ignore that?

If you’ve read Anita Nair’s Ladies Coupe you’ll know how adept she is at bringing together women centric stories. That’s what she does with Eating Wasps too.

The book opens with an award winning author Sreelakshmi committing suicide. And yet her life doesn’t end. She lives on as a ghost, a piece of a bone. As she flits from the hands of one woman to another she sees, she feels and she tells their story, bringing them together in a delightful read.

The book has multiple characters – girls, teens, women – each the protagonist of her own story, with her own challenges – sometimes internal, sometimes familial, sometimes societal.

My heart broke for Megha while Najma, who had the saddest story of all, made my heart soar. Maya was only too real, a flawed woman, an imperfect mom even as she debates what’s best for her son. Urvashi, Liliana, Brinda – each one has a story to tell.

The book isn’t perfect. The stories don’t come together as seamlessly as I’d have liked them to. Also, it could have done without a character or two while I’d have liked to know more about some of the others. Some of the stories are explored only too briefly, leaving me dissatisfied. And yet it’s a book worth reading because each story is special.

Last thought: Worth a read.