Sunday, 12 November 2017
Book Review: The Girl Who Couldn’t Love, by Shinie Antony
With a title like that and because the blurb talked about Rudrakshi’s (Roo) relationship with a much younger mysterious man, I ought to have expected a romantic tale. But because I have read a lot of Shinie Antony, I knew in my gut that an Antony novel would be anything but a simple romance between an older woman and a younger man. Recently I was on a roller coaster ride at Universal Studios in Singapore. Titled the Mummy Returns, we riders knew that at some point the tame ride would ‘descend’ into danger and darkness. Though we were prepared for it, when the sudden descend began, many shrieked. No, I didn’t shriek in Singapore and I didn’t shriek when The Girl Who Couldn’t Love slipped into chaos, but on both occasions, I almost did.
As I’ve said in one of my earlier reviews, Antony‘s style is unique. Her English is simple and sparse, yet alternately acerbic and incisive. Her observations are sharp and at times witty and over the top (actually, they are out of the world), even when narrating a sad tale.
The Girl Who Couldn’t Love is written in the first person, as narrated by Roo, a spinster who teaches English at an international school in Mangalore. Initially, Roo seems to be a simple soul, one who merely corrects the spelling when she intercepts a vulgar note (making fun of her singleness) passed between her pupils. Her aunt EeeDee seems to be as simple a soul as Roo. Roo’s mother, a nearly blind old woman who continually praises her late husband, also seems to be standard issue. As for Roo’s suitor D. Kumar, he could have come out of any Mills and Boon paperback.
The clues are there from the beginning, but the reader cannot fail to miss them. When one finishes the novel, one will end up re-reading it to figure out why one ended up being taken for such a ride, albeit an enjoyable one, in a masochistic sort of way. I’m not going to say more and give away the plot and spoil this for you. Do read this novel, I highly recommend it.
I have previously reviewed Antnony’s Séance on a Sunday Afternoon, When Mira Went Forth And Multiplied and The Orphanage for Words.