31 Miles – Vinita Bakshi.
My wife calls me “Mommy’s Boy” and I always take it as a compliment, as I fortunately truly am that 🙂 and my mom actually treats me as if I am some Prince. I got the passion and love for reading absolutely from her and she has some appetite for books, whatever, wherever they may be coming from, she absolutely reads everything and anything and so do I too. I dread the day we both read a book and have polarizing opinion about it. Now the book in title did absolutely that. She loved it and I disliked it big time. She read it last month and reviewed too, which I posted as well. If you go down a bit on my timeline you may see it as well. I finished the book today as I was almost on the last few pages, she saw and asked me “Hows it? Isn’t it fantastic?”, I just gave her a cursory smile and said “Let me finish it and lets talk”. Then I realized one very important aspect, Can age or gender make it any different for different people to have totally opposite opinions about a book? I guess thats the case with this book. She being in her mid 60’s may see and interpret it totally differently than how I will do it at this point of time. Or it may appeal a bit differently to a further younger audience, unmarried, married for a while types. Unfortunately, it was a big let down for me, I expected a lot from it specially the premise and by the way it started but midways somewhere it loses its steam and just drags to a very convenient (totally unbelievable) ending.
Protagonist Mansa is a mid 40s gorgeous female, married to a terrific guy Abhijit (COO of a multinational) with a college going daughter studying in UK and another in high school back home in Gurgaon, living in a plush house overlooking a Golf Course. You get the hang right? Now what could be troubling her? that suddenly she realizes her life isn’t great anymore and gets into some kind of a cookery course which leads her to start her own business and it all catapults to some height (all believably done, a bit confusing though but OK). Imagine she does all this with superb support of her husband who never stops her from doing and trying anything in life especially the way he not only loves but adores her is too good to be true but made me happy. Still it wasn’t enough I guess for Mansa as she expects some more from her life which isn’t to be. And then she comes across another guy on the opposite side of the planet through social media and falls for him big time (Desperate Housewives types). What happens next is a believable yet over the top account of her affair with him, totally indigestible for a guy like me, who just couldn’t understand why was she doing what she was doing? Or was she going through the same thing that we all middle aged people go through, when life becomes a little predictable, love is still there but romance goes out of the window when we all get busy in achieving our targets and face the routine life which we just cant help, looking at the future prospect of it all?
What totally didn’t work me was the background. The way their life is (Super Rich) with no troubles at all, yet there is a little twist about she getting migraines and her husband having nightmares (Sleep walks) which keeps getting lost somewhere in between and keep surfacing again but after long gaps. It all looked such a fluke to me, the whole affair thing that it becomes such a drag to go through to no end. Till it justifies the title and that big let down of an ending. Unfortunately I just couldn’t identify with the character of Mansa for why she was doing what she was doing at all. On top of that a publication as good as “Rupa” shocked me with the mistakes they have in the book. Not only names confused at least once to the missing punctuation(s) and even grammatical mistakes (twice) sentence making no sense. Although I don’t nitpick neither I am any kind of expert but if I was able to see 4-5 mistakes, a better bibliophile than me will surely find it a big turn off for that too.
I have read quite a few positive reviews on this one earlier, I will definitely go back to them to see what made them like the book but if you have read it and liked it, do let me know how you liked it and if you haven’t read it. I will say give it a miss or rather wait for the sequel, it may turn out to be a better story than this one.