May 24, 2013

Book Review- The Secret Wish List by Preeti Shenoy

Title: The Scret Wish List
Author: Preeti Shenoy
First Published in India by Westland Ltd on 2012
ISBN: 978 93 82618 18 8
Pages: 260
Price: 175/-
Rating: 2.5/5
I was too keen to read this fiction as I personally attended the book launch event and heard the authoress sharing her thoughts on this book. Therefore I was too excited to dig in the book as I avidly enjoyed the book launch event. I finished this book in two days. But I bet it can be easily finished in 3-4 hours. The Secret Wish List is the second novel that I read by Preeti Shenoy. Simple Language and elementary narration are the foremost qualities that Preeti always wins over her readers. Her theme based feministic approach of a woman's search for Identity and earning her financial independence is always dominating what her last two novels portrayed.

Peeping in the Story: 16 year old Diksha fell in love with handsome Ankit, her Brother's friend. The teenager passionate love ended when they got caught red handed kissing each other. That one silly mistake changed Diksha's life. She was sent away from her home to a different girls’ school in another state. Forced to get married at the age 19 with boorish Sandeep much older than her. After 15 years of her marriage and having a son of 9 years old, life focused Diksha to rethink about her life again. Her Cousin Sister Vibha inspired her to make a secret wish list and Diksha slowly found all the secret wishes getting fulfilled in a vicious circle. Return of Ankit in her life again and her old best pal Tanu changed her life. Now let it be a suspense what then happened to Diksha's life and how the story ended.

The prologue of the novel (taken from Ch: 15, P: 132- 133) is justly picked up which recounts the main theme of the novel. One will get a glimpse of what Diksha is going through and that will compel one to dig in the novel more and more till it ends with the happy epilogue. The novel is surely a page turner, as Preeti very skillfully divided the plot and glued the readers with some exciting turning points that matured Diksha's life. The first seven chapters alternatively oscillate 16 year old Diksha’s passion, the freedom of mind and ready to turn 35 years old Diksha's frustration and soul confinement. The first seven chapters also introduce all the major characters: Diksha, Sandeep, Sandeep's Mother, Ankit, Tanu and Vibha.

In The Secret Wish List Preeti portrayed five women who are seemed to be picked up from our real Life. Diksha's Mother was sketched as the conservative, very much protective Mother and obedient wife. Diksha's Mother- In- Law on the other hand to much understanding, broad minded and practical lady who can be considered as Diksha's life line and one of the best friends too.
Vibha, the financially independent lady is always an inspiring personality and best cousin come friend of Diksha. Being a woman she always earned the freedom and celebrated her own identity. It is Vibha who compels Diksha to make her secret wish list and secretly encourages tasting the freedom of life. But she never advocates Diksha to delve into any intrigued life. Her sudden death of her husband's life changed her life and minds her to concentrate to spend more time with her family, with her daughter. But at the end of the novel Vibha's change in the character must raised the readers eyebrows to rethink about the broad minded independent woman's thought when Vibha protested against the divorce of Diksha and Sandeep and stopped talking to her.
Tanu, the best friend of Diksha when she was 16, portrayed as the epitome of modernism. When she returned after 18 years she is highly established with a high profile job. She looks dashing, confident, gorgeous and beautiful from every side. She is heartbroken from her several past affairs and she decides to remain single until Gaurav enters in her life.
Vibha and Tanu these two ladies, work like a catalyst in Diksha's life to bring out the Independent Diksha and to taste the freedom of life. Diksha always covets to do something of her own but she has to burry all her dreams after the silly incident of her teenage life and then getting married with the uncompromising, neandertal and isensitive Sandeep. Her 15 years of marriage life is like raising her son and run her household perfectly. She considered herself as the "willing door mat"(P: 71). But the sudden encounter of her secret wish list changes her life and slowing she stepped in to the world what she actually yearns for. Preeti limned Diksha the protagonist from a fragile woman to a dauntless personality.
The readers will surely move in to Diksha's character and feel pity on her. Preeti has challenged the stereotype women and dressed up Diksha in a different modern outfit who being "a good house wife" turned in to "a cheating adventurous spouse" (P: 177). The time will come when the readers will start blaming Diksha for her adulterous approach towards life, just at that point Preeti very skillfully made Diksha to achieve the readers full sympathy when Sandeep's real brutal, insensitive attitude face off (P: 190-192). But what I didn't like here that a woman can always do something of her own without the help of rich friends and folks. What would happen if wealthy Ankit would not return to Diksha's life and Rich Tanu will be not by her side? I truly agree that we always need some motivation and inspiration when we are totally lost with our soul and what our "I" covet for. But fairy tale elements are a very rare view that can be found in the real life. At the same time a Fiction is a Fiction that we should not forget.

Overall my view is: After finishing the book I really didn't enjoyed what I expected from the book. Like her previous novel Tea for two and a piece of cake, The Secret Wish List, sounded quite similar with some alteration and facts. In the both novels like a magical world everything worked perfectly with a fairy tale ending with few unpleasant events keep flowing through out. I felt like reading a modern Cinderella story where a mediocre lady or a married lady meets her prince charming and then they lived both happily ever after with some alteration. I loved the way how she narrated in this novel a homemaker's frustration, a stereotype chauvinist husband, but the entry of the rich long lost handsome lover, intrigue trip to Maldives, entry of the highly established long lost girl friend, pour too much of the cinematic elements . If one wants to make a movie on it, it will be a perfect script for that.

Preeti described very well the Salsa portions. I really enjoyed it and learnt many things from it. Few errors that I found where Diksha was called as Vibha and Tanu two times (P: 109 & 234). And it will not be complete if I won't mention the little 9 year old matured Abhay, Diksha's son. The real judgment of Diksha's character Abhay gave by saying : "My mom is the best" (P: 203) and liking Ankit rather than her dad. The best lovable characters of the novel will be Abhay and Diksha's Mom- in- Law. The last page of the novel is also a new additon that I like too. I hope Preeti's fifth novel will bring some new plot and different story from the last two. I personally liked Preeti's last novel Tea for two and a piece of cake more than the latest one.

Published here too:


Swathi Iyer said...

Nice Review Kamalika.

Kamalika C said...

Thanks Swathi...

Divenita said...

Seems like a very balanced review. Liked it how you did not reveal much yet gave out the important points dipped with your views.

I never read Preeti's books but heard a lot about her.

I totally agree with the Fairy tale endings that seem to be ubiquitous in many new generation indian authors. It is good sometimes but sometimes leaves a sour taste too.

Nilu A said...

Awesome review Kamalika.. Have never read Preeti Shenoy's novels.. Will get this when I finish my current book :-)

Amy said...

Thank you for the detail book review. I don't normally read novel (well, I used to). I agree with you, I would love to read something new other than similar fairy tale story with alteration! hahaha...I would love more excitement and more drama, I guess. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.