September 14, 2012

Magic Realism And Three Women - A Review

Fractured LegendFractured Legends -  Kranthi Askani
Publishers - APK Publisher
Genre - Speculative fiction - Contemporary fantasy - magic realism - women's fiction
Novel - Paperback - 200  Pages
Price: Rs 192
Available at Flipkart.com/Indiaplaza.com  (India)

Blurb:
We are like the moths that follow invisible spiral loops to go round and round a flickering flame before jumping into the center leaving in their wake, a glowing red sore in the eye of the flame,” says the narrator, a temple slave. Priyambada makes up her mind to leave the temple where she melt into flesh at night and froze into statue by the morning. She renounces her immortal chalices, the temple facades, for a mortal life, for a life in flesh... But the tangles of life in flesh – marriage and bearing children – thrust her into a world of tribulations that cast her off into the past, sealed past, frozen past...
Nandhini, a professional assassin, is plagued by an assignment to retrieve a mysterious manuscript that is smeared with a rope of blood across its pages. She finds herself in the midst of a complex game of deceit and rivalry between two factions... Pravalli is drafting a very long letter to her mother. She is grieving, glowering, repenting, atoning....
Fractured Legend is the story of these three women who are sailing away from their turbulent pasts, the denouement puzzlingly curling them all together into one tight ribbon of hope...

This narrative follows the lives of three women - Priyambada who as a temple slave is immortal, but forgoes it for a human life and goes through the cycle of marriage & childbirth. Though she can't make a clear break from her past; she is happy in her new life. Nandhini is a trained assassin eliminating people for a price. She is entrapped by a close relative to kill someone related to her job, and for the first time in her life wonders at the futility of it all. Pravalli, on the other hand, is estranged from her mother Priyamvada over the secrets of the past, and is writing a letter of forgiveness and trying to come in terms with her mother's behaviour. The story progresses through the eyes, actions and reactions of the three female protagonists.

I liked the use of magic realism to get the tale across. That the book is based on a female perspective focusing on the trials and tribulations of Indian women (some of these aspects have universal connotation) makes it interesting enough to plow through the slow first 1/3 of the book.

The author had tried to portray the heroines (each of them is one in their own right) in a humane, understanding and empathic manner. He has attempted to infuse a vintage feel to the grey of contemporary realities. The concept is intriguing enough, and comes as breath of fresh air among all the college romances and chick-lits floating on the Indian book scene. It shows a side of India, applicable to many regions of the world, where women are struggling to assert themselves, while being bound to often well meaning but grossly misused traditions and customs.


 If you can leave aside all rational expectations of the world we inhabit, the book has the ability to move you with the sadness, pain and loneliness of the three women. The secondary characters, especially the husband - Priyamvada’s and son - Nandhini’s stand out, though their presence in the book is limited. The women move back and forth through their memories, dream a lot and often traverse between the real and surreal world. The author has left us with an open ended story, maybe a sequel is in line. 

 On the flip side, the author uses a dry narrative style of storytelling throughout the novel. The lack of dialogues makes it a very distracting read. For someone used to books, even long winded classic ones, with flowing conversations, this can be a difficult book to attempt and read through. The sentence structure  is awkward, and the overuse of adjectives and adverbs could have been avoided.

I am not sure I could recommend this book to a reader in its current version despite descriptive and detailed analysis of the lives of contemporary women and use of magic realism. A major review of the language usage and a rewrite would do wonders for this book. 

I would give this book a 3/5 rating basically for the debut effort, for attempting a book without the prejudices of the male point of view and for choosing a difficult women's related story.

Personal Disclaimer: This book was recieved for the purpose of review, hence the post in entirety is my basic impression after reading the book. It is not based on intervention by the author, publishing house or the blog review forum.

6 comments:

M Pax said...

What an interesting sounding book. Now that India is hooked to Amazon US, wonder if I can find that. Will have to check.

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

It does sound interesting. I like your honest review. 3 of 5 stars is still enough though to pique my interest. I have a lot of projects going on, but I think I will be checking it out at some point for myself.

Anne said...

This sounds interesting. Maybe one of these days I just might go pick it up. Thanks for sharing.

Pat Tillett said...

Your review makes the book sound pretty interesting, but a slow starter is always hard for me to stick with. One more reason that A.D.D. sucks...

michelle said...

Very different. Three interesting female protags.
I'd imagine that lack of dialogue would make this a difficult read... but written without the prejudices of the male viewpoint is a major plus, in favour of this story.

sharon dadivas said...

Such a wonderful review. Its truly inviting that it makes me want to read it. The plot is quite interesting. Its something different from the norms.
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