Book Review: Without a Goodbye, by Swati Kumari

Quite a few articles in the newspaper these days focuses on crimes against women, and it has been more in focus since the last few years, I think. Yet, on the other hand, there remains some silence too. I don’t know what it was that prompted me to take this book for reading; maybe it was the blurb that said “A daughter and a mother. This is the story of a life. You choose to live or die.”

No one likes to part company without a goodbye. It feels painful. It’s even more painful when the two in question are mother and daughter. Danica, who is in Patna for an exam, calls up her mother Aarti before the exam. Nothing seems to be out of place then, but when she calls in the evening after the exam, both of her mother’s mobiles were switched off. Enquiring with her aunt, she comes to know her mother is missing. She wants to know what happened, but her questions seem to have no answers. Later, when her roommate questions her about that day, she shares the diary of her mother which talks of Aarti and her life, before and after Danica was born. This is the story.

When we see so many love stories being published each month in the Indian Writing in English category, this novel comes as a breath of fresh air. It is a love story, but not a romantic one. Though it is about the relationship between mother and daughter, the story focuses more on the life of the mother Aarti, how she was treated by her husband, the sacrifices she made, what she went through and what led to the day it all changed. The diary entries are nicely done, though a bit more detailed than I’ve seen them to be (it varies with people, I suppose). I loved the emotions, and how mother and daughter interacted, as well as to see the women take a more prominent role in the life of the family. That men first mentality is also well explored in the novel.

As I said earlier, though Danica and Aarti are prominent characters, I feel the focus is on Aarti, and so her character stands out more. Strong, loving and determined, hers is a character I admire. Danica’s character too is nice, and in some ways, reflects what she has imbibed from Aarti’s character. And the character of the husband/father is so relatable to the Indian society we read of, that he can easily be pictured as the villain of the piece.

The novel flows smoothly through the entries of the diary, and is narrated well in first person. It is engaging, and a quick read. The simple language works for the character, but at times, one cannot differentiate between the characters through their dialogues/language. It could have also had another round of proofreading, just to smooth out a few places. I liked the ending, though given the relationship between mother and daughter, it jarred. Though there is a glossary at the end, it felt like there were too many family terms in Hindi. And not a big fan of the cover art either.

It’s definitely a very readable and thoughtful book, and has more positives than negatives. Best wishes to the author for her next venture too.


A score of 7 out of 10
A score of 7 out of 10
Book Details
Title: Without a Goodbye
Author: Swati Kumari Genre: Fiction
ISBN/ASIN: 9789352013876 Publisher: Frog Books

The author gave me a copy of the book for review. No other payment was taken. The views expressed here are mine, and they remain uninfluenced and unbiased.


(© 22nd January 2016)

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