About the author:
Lavanya Sankaran is an Indian writer who is the author of The Red Carpet, a collection of short stories that were at the top of Hachette’s bestseller charts for over two years. She supports the Indian Foundation for the Arts, and the New York Council for Humanities. She studied political science and philosophy at Bryn Mawr College and lives in Bangalore. This book is her debut novel.
Impressions from the cover:
I don’t get any, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Thoughts on the blurb:
A story of two families, a middle-class one with an aura of riches around and a poor family who works for the first. So a common story between the two would be interesting, especially in the contrasting conditions.
So to give a gist, the story revolves around the family of Anand, who is a small businessman, the owner of a motor works factory. He is looking to expand his small factory and starts to look for land that he needs for the new factory. He is married, and has two kids. His wife, Vidya is a very whimsical person who must have what she wants, and is very prominent and actively involved in the social scene. Her father, Harry is a very influential person with well-known and much respected contacts in various fields, and Harry tries to help his son-in-law with his problem as well. On the other hand, we have Kamala, one of the three maids working for Vidya. Her problems are money-based as well. She wants to save money so her son can attend a good school and get a proper education, secure his (and their) future. Her son Narayan however skips school and hangs out with the neighborhood rowdy gang, but takes good influences too and works hard to earn some money for his mother and himself. Lavanya takes us on a journey through these two stories with this novel.
The Hope Factory, in my opinion, is a wonderful novel of character examination. We have these various people with whose characters we might identify. Anand, the boss who wants his company to progress and is quite well-off, but doesn’t want to show-off that wealth or be too active in social circles. However, he is street smart, kind and generous too. Vidya, who is as easily flattered as she is hurt, who has these sudden whims and fancies that she wishes others to understand, but when the fancies get her to trouble, passes them off on others. She is quick to talk and judge, and doesn’t admit she is wrong. Kamala, the hard-working single mother who saves all her money for the son’s future, and though she was born into wealth, her life had a wrong turn awaiting her. Shanta, who is arrogant and bossy, and though kind when shown kindness, she reverts back to her old character like a leopard that can’t change its spots. These are but small facets of few characters in the novel. If we examine them as we read, we see many similarities to people around us. Lavanya’s language is simple, and there’s no beating about the bush. This directness is beautiful and makes it easy for me to imagine it. It’s not an extremely moving tale, but it touches our heart. It’s a touch heavy, but just a whisker, nothing that we will take an eternity to finish.
Coming to what I feel might have made it a little better, I think firstly the blurb could have been on the back cover, since as a reader, that’s the first place I usually look. In the story, Kavika’s character becomes as good as a main character, though she is a small one. So I feel a proper ending could have been got there, especially as at the starting and towards the middle parts, there is an interesting buildup that involves her character. And I felt the ending stages was sort of rushed through as events began to zoom by. Editing wise, it’s quite well done. I could find maybe one misprint throughout but that fell away in the reading.
Overall, a really enjoyable read, though most of the events are expected than unpredictable. I definitely look forward to reading more of her work.
Title: The Hope Factory
Author: Lavanya Sankaran
Publishers: Hachette India
Price: INR. 550
(June 5th, 2013)