Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Vague Woman's Handbook - Devapriya Roy

'The Vague Woman's Handbook' by Devapriya Roy is about two vague women, one twenty something newly married woman and one fifty year old widow, who meet and help one another deal with their lives. Their issues are day to day issues of family, bills, fat, food, directions, and so on.

Devapriya writes well but in this novel she is let down by a plot that is pretty thin. I can't help feeling that she could have just gone over the top and over-dramatized certain things (the credit card goons were an interesting possibility, the mother-in-law was another, kidnap threats, missing in actions, leering bosses, old girlfriends for husband, anything) and added some drama and conflict which would have helped as the two vague women go along their lives. Also, I suspect, the vagueness quotient got too much in the way and the novel ended up being just that - vague. That's a pity because it's obvious that she can write. 'The vague Woman's Handbook' ends up with all the promise of a Jeeves and Wooster story but without Wooster getting into a sticky situation - so Jeeves does not go beyond getting him a pick-me-up. Did Devapriya hold herself back a bit? Maybe. Should she in the future? No. On the positives, she is one of the better writers, confident and strong, and it is definitely one of the better debut novels.

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