Having already read two of Sundari Venkatraman’s best-selling novels - The Madras Affair and Matches Made In Heaven, the excitement as I started with An Autograph for Anjali was palpable. The author managed to keep that excitement bubbling throughout - so much, that I was compelled to read the whole book in one go. If I had to describe it in one word – it was unputdownable!
Coming to the story, it started off as a murder mystery, a whodunit kind of beginning. Just when I was beginning to think that if the author had suddenly decided to switch from writing romance novels to scripting thrillers, the love angle gradually crept in. And how!
I would call this a coming of age novel. Perhaps, a voice to the lakhs of women stuck between the devil and the deep sea, confined to the orthodox way of life, masking their emotions for fear of being judged and afraid to give expression to their needs.
The story explores the loneliness and suffocation of the protagonist Anjali, stuck in a loveless marriage, her struggle with her conscience as she hopelessly falls in love with someone she shouldn’t, and her attempt to break free. The novel also explores how Anjali discovers her needs for intimacy, the need to be valued and cherished as a partner, and her dilemma when she actually finds someone who gives her both of these.
The story is progressive and moves with the times. It is Anjali’s grown up son who first nudges her into thinking why she is still putting up with a loveless marriage and supports her when she tells him she’s contemplating separation. While the mother-son chemistry is endearing, there’s no attempt to demonize the father. The son is mature enough to understand that if couples have nothing in common, they do lose interest in each other’s life and gradually drift away and hence does not end up hating his father though he sympathizes with his mother. The author has responsibly refrained from making the husband the evil one, in order to justify the wife falling in love with another though the husband does have his dalliances which act as a trigger for Anjali to contemplate about her own life. Clearly mature writing.
I also loved the character Anjali falls in love with- Parth, the author. I mean, who wouldn’t find the appeal of falling in love with a writer exciting! Writers, I personally think, are the best people to fall in love with - they connect to emotions better, express themselves better and have all the right things to say. And true to that, Parth turns out to be all that and more! The romantic and intimate scenes between Anjali and Parth are delicately yet sensuously handled. They make you want to immediately cuddle up with your loved one!
The only part that was unconvincing in the story was Anjali recovering too soon from her depression. But again, stretching her scenes of depression wouldn’t have really added much value to the story so that can be overlooked.
I’d say it’s a very well researched and well-written novel. The story is fast-paced and fun to read. If romance is what you love to read, you would definitely enjoy this one.
Here's the blurb-
About the Author
Link for buying- https://notionpress.com/read/an-autograph-for-anjali
ISBN - ISBN9789386009388