The title of the book screamed it is a ‘Forbidden Territory’, while I was having a glimpse of the bookshelf ! However,exploring the forbidden is human instinct, so I just picked the book. Its been more than a decade since I ventured into the genre of ‘Romance’, barring the handful Shakespeare work I interpret to my students. I remember vaguely that my last Romantic novel(if I may say so) was an old M&B series(Mills n Boon) which I read just after being married(Pun unintended;) a couple of years into the new millennium! Since then I have ventured into other genres and quoting Sylvia Plath (purely due to academic interest and requirements and of course due to age 😉 .Hence , when I started reading this book, it gave a Mills n Boon feel ,topped with grapevine and an Indian flavour to the story! When I completed the book, I strongly felt I should put across my views about the book because some people may like this book, some may hate this but one cannot ignore the various issues put across.
Unravelling the hidden
‘Forbidden Desires’ is a story of four women in their 30s-Naina,Kavita, Ayesha and Kaajal. Each of them we read, going through their every day struggle of being born a ‘woman’ in this modern Indian Society which is ruthless and demanding, especially on Women –be it as an employee ,wife ,mother or an entrepreneur. Its a constant struggle to juggle through the various roles a woman plays in her life and these issues are very well depicted in this story. It is also this daunting expectation which makes the four female protagonists of this book to go through depression, isolation , a lack of self-esteem, identity crisis and finally explore their ‘Forbidden Desires’!
The story talks about the four women in turns and brings it all together, intertwined and directly or indirectly influencing each other’s life. Ofcourse, there are ample doses of sex, lust and betrayal in each of the stories where in it closely resembles M&Bs. Madhuri Banerjee has given the reader a guided tour of Delhi in this book with her vivid descriptions of the various shopping places, food joints, social gatherings and its locales. She has also portrayed the obsession of Delhiites with the ‘Brands’ in her descriptions of the female characters of the story which is quite amusing !
While reading all this, one may feel that the book is all about candy floss and vanity fair, but’ NO’,the writer has also talked about the haunting issues of 1) ‘unsafe Delhi’ and provides solutions through the character of Harshavardhan 2) LGBT and Live-in relationship issues through the female characters. This story according to me, indirectly ,dwells on the effects of Modernization, urbanization and empowerment of women that has led to a sense of dissatisfaction, alienation and isolation especially among Indian women. However, all this is dealt under the umbrella of extramarital affairs and infidelity in this book! At some point, especially during the climax of the story the decisions taken by the characters becomes predictable, homologous and imprudent which makes one unsympathetic towards the female characters (This is just my viewpoint-No offence)
‘Karma says What goes around, comes around’ and this is so very true of this story and the trigger remains the character of Jayashree. Now, you have to grab a copy and read the story to know -Who is Jayashree and what role does she play in the story J If one reads closely, there are some loose ends left by the writer like – middle class families going abroad for vacations though they are trying hard to make ends meet, too many desperate housewives,character of Tarini and Pinky is incomplete..may be this calls for a sequel to this book! Overall, a goodread during the Valentine month ( though I don’t see sanity in having affairs and being disloyal!)
I give this book a rating of 4 / 5
Title of the Book : Forbidden Desires
Author : Madhuri Banerjee
Number of Pages : 262
Publishers : Rupa Publications