Sometimes, what makes me pick up a book is familiarity, even more than the blurb or cover. It was the same with this book. I had read and loved the book The Bankster by the author, and quite liked the writing style as well. It was what made me ignore the big “Soon to be a Motion Picture” tagline on the cover page, which felt like promoting the still unreleased movie and not the book, and take the book for reading hoping it wouldn’t be a script.
The Bestseller She Wrote is the story of the most popular author in the country Aditya (I’ll leave it to you to decide if the character is completely fictional) who is an alumnus of IIM Bangalore, and comes there to give a talk. An argument with a girl from the audience leads the lives of the two to intersect, and the girl, who reads one of his books overnight, becomes a fan of the author and terms his book unputdownable. When the author, who is also a successful banker, goes to IIM again for campus placements, he runs into the girl, Shreya, again. She is hired to the bank, and a close friendship develops. Shreya, who aspires to be an author, takes the help of Aditya to write that bestseller. Aditya, the married man, finds himself attracted to the younger girl, and thus begins an extramarital affair. Shreya seems head over heels in love with Aditya too, and talks of Maya, Aditya’s wife being out of their lives, especially when Maya falls sick. When the fully recovered Maya finds out about the affair, the wheels begin to turn and Aditya finds himself with choices to make and decisions that he has to live with. The story follows that plotline to the end.
With the genre being a romantic thriller, for me it has to keep me engaged from start to finish as a thriller would do, yet have the romance as well. Well, unlike Shreya, I didn’t find the author’s book unputdownable. It is a quick read, I’ll say that, and it can be finished in a few hours at most. Perhaps the best aspect of the book reflects that ‘thrill’ factor, and that is the climax, which I loved reading. The romance in the book is either quite clichéd or borders on erotica. Perhaps one factor in the book that might be helpful is that it happens in the publishing industry, and a reader can get an idea of how that works if they are looking to enter it in the future.
Any novel needs interesting characters to make it a page turner. This book has quite a few characters with varied shades that add to the book, but not necessarily interesting characters. Aditya is the “paperback king of India”, unable to take criticism in a blunt way, easily prone to attraction and eager to jump into the sack with the girl Shreya, and with that, jumping into one muddle after the other. He chooses to express his love to Maya, his wife, after she is ill, and after he’s already cheated on her. Shreya is an avid reader and one who feels strongly about the romantic fiction that India seems to churn out, yet becomes a convert after one night of reading and one book. She seems to be determined to do whatever she has to, to become a bestseller like Aditya, including sleeping with him, and then resorting to blackmail. Sanjay is the chronic bookworm who doesn’t let anyone touch his books, who seemingly stands by Aditya’s side. Their past runs farther than working together at the bank. There are other characters too, but none seem to leave a strong impression on the reader after the book is completed.
Short chapters which keep the interest rolling seem to be the order of the day these days, and this book is no different, and it does help to some extent. But the narrative is rife with things that are unnecessary or unbelievable, and dialogues that are very terse. The love scenes are put in such a way that it is so easy to imagine and cringe. The level of detail in no way adds to the story, other than in page count. Similarly, Maya getting Ebola is another touch that made me go, “Really? Ebola? For real?” To show the wife in a critical condition would have sufficed, the need to bring ‘Ebola’ into the picture was not there. And yes, Shreya losing everything she dreamed of (deservedly, I guess, but still) and Aditya regaining what was seemingly lost was definitely unbelievable.
A quick read this book is, but the story doesn’t live up to the billing. The climax was well written for the genre, but that doesn’t quite cover up for the mostly unmemorable storyline. I, for one, hope the first of the author’s experiments in this genre is the last of the experiments as well. 2 stars, and no, I’m definitely not looking forward to the movie.
|Title: The Bestseller She Wrote|
|Author(s): Ravi Subramanian||Genre: Romance Thriller|
|ISBN/ASIN: 9789385152382||Publisher: Westland|
(© 21st December 2015)