Hello, my dear readers! After a brief hiatus, thanks to holiday season, I’m back with another review for #BookChatter. Girls and the City by Manreet Sodhi Someshwar has been the latest addition to my fast-expanding book stash. Let’s dive right in to know my experience with it, shall we?
About the book
Metro cities have long fascinated people from all over our country. Dreams of name, fame and money, not necessarily in that order, cravingly attract them like moths to a flame. Does this big unexplored world welcome them with open arms though? Do they realise the struggle they have to endure merely to survive, especially women?
Girls and the City takes us on a ride through Bangalore, at its best and worst. While at one side we’re introduced to the beauty of this lovely Garden City, the other gives a horrid glimpse of its crumbling infrastructure. In the midst of this chaos are the intertwined stories of three female protagonists; Juhi, Leela and Reshma.
Juhi is a small-town girl with a killer attitude to succeed. Leela, a doting single mother, concocts lies to merely have a roof over her head. A beautiful and stylish executive, Reshma constantly battles demons from her past. Fiery, independent and unapologetic, all three of them are keen to grab every opportunity to move ahead in life. A twist in their tale comes in the form of a murder that threatens to crumble the world around them.
First and foremost, Girls and the City being set in Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India, truly warmed my heart. Reading about how the place and its people have changed over time evoked a feeling of nostalgia in me even though I’ve never been there. The characters and their stories blend beautifully with the setting as well.
Manreet introduces us to the dark side of the glamorous ad agency world. There’s cut-throat competition, overworked employees, bullying colleagues, pervert bosses and three hardworking women grappling with all of this. From a one-sided innocent lover to a drop-dead handsome Indian-American import, the men play an instrumental part in the story too. Each character is as real and as flawed as one can be. The book balances the contrast between rural and urban India quite well.
Manreet’s writing is intelligent and grips the reader’s attention instantly. A murder seems far-fetched in an otherwise chick story but all loose ends are closed in the end. The small conversations after every chapter depict the prejudice working women and single mothers face everyday. The real-life references of jingles and advertisements were brilliant and well-placed. Also, fashionably impeccable women like Reshma are surreal. 🙂
That said, Girls and the City seems to go slightly overboard sometimes. Juhi’s part in her family history seemed unpalatable to me. The way the story unfolded in the end didn’t surprise me though. While I empathise with Leela, was such an elaborate false tale necessary to keep renting the place?
These are however minor glitches in an otherwise interesting read. I finished this book in one sitting and that’s something! Although it’s set in India it has a definite international feel to it. (I mentally picked out who would play whom too! 😉 )
My rating: **** 4/5 stars
About the author
Manreet Sodhi Someshwar is based in New York and has been hailed as ‘A Star on the literary horizon’ by Khushwant Singh. She is a bestselling an award-winning writer of five books including The Radiance of a Thousand Suns, the critically-acclaimed The Long Walk Home and the Mehrunisa series. Her work has featured in literary festivals around the world.
Language : English
Genre : Fiction
Available in : Paperback and Kindle Edition