Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Weight Loss Club by Devapriya Roy

Title:The Weight Loss Club
Author: Devapriya Roy
Publisher: RupaPublications India
Genre:  Fiction
Date:  2013
Price: Rs.250
Pages:304
Snapshot: Are you a fan of Hrishikesh Mukherjee movies like Anand and Bawarchi? Well this is a similar story though many more characters and therefore more flavour and entertainment with the central binding character whose story remains a suspense. Tempted?
 
 The Story & Critics Perspective: To begin with the coverpage is extremely attractive and cool. One absolutely cant resist this book and it sort of gives an idea about the characters. Hatsoff to the designer.

Moving on to the story it is divided into six parts, each a phase that people in the Nancy Housing Co-operative go through. The characters are many and they are unique in their own sense and all of them have their own set of problems. The best part, its based in one of my most favourite cities - Kolkata and the icing on cake is, yes there is a description of the Durga puja time.

The lead characters are: the mysterious sadhvi Sandhyaji, Apu(Aparajita) the academic, a PhD student (like myself and thus I could instantly connect to her) and slightly on the heavier side, Meera - a young married woman with mother in law issues, Monalisa Das - a mom with a mission to have her children secure admission in best institutes, Abeer- Apu's brother - a BCA student- a cool guy, Ananda Bose - a lecturer, a philosopher and a bachelor who looks after his cancer victim mother and Treeza - a depressed beautiful lady.

Each one of these has their set of problems, for Meera its the unsatisfied mother in law as she delivers a second girl child. Apu has to loose weight to marry every parents dream - "the American guy". Monalisa Das's sons just cant get the scores she wishes they would. Ananda Das is alone and boring. Abeer likes a girl Mandy much above his league. Treeza is depressed and the author only wishes to tell you why much later. In the middle of all this arrives the Oxford return sadhvi Sandhya, with her own stories ,battles and her life's mission to help lives around her and something else? What that is...well read the book for that.

I would say the first part and especially the first ten pages of the story where the author sets the stage are so gripping that one wouldn't want to put the book down but as one heads towards the end of part one till beginning of part three it slows down and there is too much, sometimes just too many characters to absorb at a time. I wish she could have rather have structured introductions first and then into the story.

Part three onwards the book picks up its pace and caters to the readers interest again as Sandhya starts describing her own story. The best part is Sandhya's story is not just the suspense but also a very informative and soul searching part.Also the author doesnt tell you for long the story of what depresses the beautiful and chirpy Treeza? which is another part one keeps looking for.

The Review:
Positives: The author has told an interesting story with real life like characters. Along with it she has also mildly addressed issues like the female child, the obsession of parents with marks etc. Each character has his unique story and there is no overlap of multiple characters. Balancing so many characters well is indeed an accomplishment. Also the scientific facts mentioned about memory of genes being passed across generation is very accurate and I am very impressed by that.
Negatives: Some places the author has gone into too much description, the part where Treeza and her husband go for a party and meet the avalanche of characters that the reader cannot cope up with is not needed. The part two as I said earlier goes downhill after setting up high expectations in part one. A little restructuring there would help a great deal. Also there are some hind words in between , just two or three places which isn't expected.

The Verdict:  Over all an entertaining read. Let me into introspection at times. Worth a read. 3.5 stars on 5.
About the Author:
Devapriya Roy has degrees in English literature and performance studies from Presidency College, Calcutta, and Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, where she is pursuing a PhD on the Natyashastra (at least, that is what she says when asked what she does). Once upon a time, she was the Keo Karpin girl. Her first novel, The Vague Womans Handbook, was published in 2011. She is currently working on The Heat and Dust Project, the story of a quirky journey through India on an extreme budget, along with her husband, Saurav Jha. 


I thank Rupa Publications India for a copy of the book.

6 comments:

  1. Really liked your detailed review! It gives the complete idea of the book:)

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  2. Thank you Nimi for that review :)

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  3. Its my pleasure Devapriya, really loved your research into the memory the DNA carries, waiting for The Heat and Dust Project now :)

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  4. very detailed review. curious to read as well!

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