Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Alphabet Soup For Lovers by Anita Nair

Genre: YA, Literary Fiction
Publishers: Harper Colins 
Lena Abraham knows that love can end in only one way - disappointment. Her marriage to KK is perfect precisely because she is not in love with him, and their life on a tea plantation in the picturesque Anamalai hills is idyllic. Then, one rainy morning, a man arrives to take up temporary residence in the homestay they run. Shoola Pani is south Indian cinema's heartthrob, an actor in flight from his own superstardom, and the last thing he is looking for is emotional entanglement. But when Lena and he meet, something flares between them that neither could have anticipated. She becomes his Lee and he her Ship, and the place they inhabit Arcadia. Told partly from the point of view of Komathi, whose own relationship with Lena is fraught with buried truths from the past, this searing tale of unexpected passion and adultery reaffirms the magical power of love in all our lives.
Alphabet Soup didn't work for me, it was a recipe gone wrong somewhere. I read Anita Nair's LESSONS IN FORGETTING in July, which left quite an impression on me with a moving, yet fascinating storyline and her meticulous writing. Thus, obviously, I had high hopes when I picked up an another novel by her. Sadly, it was not up to my  taste. 

The story is described through the eyes of Komathi, a cook working for KK and Lena. She is learning English alphabets with the aid of familiar items around her in the kitchen. Each chapter is titled under a food item and is related to her and Lena's life; through anecdotes or any myth/stories/facts about that particular item. I delight in reading food fiction, so I really enjoyed how each chapter was connected with an ingredient, learnt one or two things about a few items and also became impressed by the lessons which the author has derived from each item, in a way I have never thought before. 

Each chapter gives an insight into Lena and Komathi's life. As stories unfold, we see a grieving lover in Komathi and a wife who becomes passionate for another man in Lena. Whilst the cause of Komathi's heartache was completely understandable, Lena's behaviour left me bewildered. I couldn't fathom her marriage to KK, their relationship and her sudden passion for the actor, staying in their cottage.

I ended up hating the protagonist towards the end of the story and thinking what the author wishes to convey through this novel. I don't understand how adultery reaffirms the power of love in our lives, should've read the blurb before buying the novel. Seems like the novel lacked the details to make the story actually enjoyable. Despite the familiarity of the backdrops and attractive prose  - it failed to impress me. It was okay, not up to par. Couldn't even connect with any of the characters. Terribly disappointed!
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