Sunday, March 10, 2013

Review: The Secret Wish List by Preeti Shenoy



I am a long-time reader of Preeti Shenoy’s blog (www.justamotheroftwo.blogspot.com) and won The Secret Wish List in a contest on her blog titled Wishlist Wednesdays. Around the same time, I also had an opportunity to meet her when she came down to Mumbai to launch the book (http://pallosworld.blogspot.in/2013/01/meeting-preeti-shenoy.html)


The Secret Wishlist revolves around Diksha, Ankit, Tanu, Sandeep and Abhay. It starts off in Chennai, where, as a sixteen-year-old, Diksha is like any other typical teenager. She and her best friend Tanu spend hours and hours of time studying, discussing the latest crushes and gossiping. Enter Ankit, Diksha’s elder brother’s friend. Both Ankit and Diksha start liking each other and spending quite a bit of time together without the knowledge of either the parents or her elder brother. When the first opportunity for an overnight travel for a school project arises, both of them jump at it. However, things there take a turn for the worse due to which the lives of Ankit and Diksha are forever changed.

Cut to the present. In Bangalore, Diksha is married to Sandeep and they have a son Abhay. Diksha’s entire day, rather, existence revolves around both of them. Right from making the morning tea, to breakfast, lunch and dinner to catering to every whim and fancy of Sandeep and Abhay, Diksha seems to not have an individual life at all. She does not seem to mind her daily mundane life either.

However, a sudden event in her cousin’s life seems to jolt her out of her existence. At the behest of the cousin, she decides to try and take some control over her life and makes a wishlist – a list of things which she truly wants to do. Included in the list are items like snorkelling, getting drunk and learning salsa.

By a fortuitous turn of events, Tanu (who has been working at Gurgaon and recently re-located to Bangalore) re-enters her life and tells her that Ankit has been wanting to get in touch with her since a long time. With this conversation, Diksha’s heart and mind are forced to confront whether she would really want to meet him; if yes, what would the future course of action be, etc. How the issue is sorted out forms the climax of the story.

The best part about Preeti’s writings is the time and effort spent in etching out each and every character and the interactions between them. Diksha as a bubbly teenager; Diksha as a housewife; Diksha as a housewife wanting to live out her wishlist; Diksha as a housewife imagining what it would be to go back to Ankit – all the various stages have been carved out beautifully. Sandeep’s character has been shown to be a typical, male chauvinist who only cares for his well-being without giving a thought to what his wife wants. He cannot even imagine that she may have any wants. He comes across as extremely selfish and a person quite easy to hate.

Tanu has been portrayed as Diksha’s best friend – someone who has her best interests at heart and who forgives her friend’s faults. Ankit is the ideal guy – someone who is compassionate, caring and concerned; who wants to fulfil each and every wish of Diksha at whatever cost it entails. He lets his heart rule his mind.

The relationships and interactions between Diksha and Tanu, Diksha and her husband, Diksha and her son, Diksha and her parents, Diksha and her salsa instructor, Diksha and her mother-in-law, Diksha’s brother and Ankit and finally Diksha and Ankit have been developed in great detail.

Another aspect about her is the way she tackles “difficult” subjects such as having an extramarital relationship. Sure, we all scoff at the mere idea but we do not bother going behind and understanding the reasons for it.

My takeaways from the book are:

Parents may not always have the children’s best interests at heart. As parents, it is very important to be friends with your children and to really understand what is going on with them. If you are going to dictate and expect your child to only do what you want him/her to do, they are never going to be happy.

True love does really exist. You may not realize it immediately and it may take its own sweet time in reaching you. But it will eventually. Also, along the way, you may have to face some difficulties. But it will definitely be worth it. The only thing it demands is that you have the courage to accept it when it finally comes your way. Rest everything shall fall in place.

Marriage is a process of give and take. It is a process of compromising. It is not just expecting the wife to do all the work while the husband earns money. It is about realizing that your wife may also have some hopes and aspirations. It is about understanding that sometimes all one needs to do is lend a ear.

Lastly, friendship is a unique bond. You may be best friends but one act of indiscretion could cause a crack in that friendship. However, that crack could soon be mended as well. Your friend will always have your best interests at heart and will go out of the way to make sure you achieve them. Your friend will never judge you. You may not speak for days, weeks, or in the case of this book, years on end but when you do, you will catch up like there has been no break in between. That is the true test of friendship.

I was left wondering at the end what would have happened if Diksha had been in a happy marriage and Ankit had re-entered her life. Maybe, Preeti could re-write the book with a different ending :)

Like I mentioned at the beginning – I won this book in a contest organized by Preeti. And the post I wrote for that contest (http://pallosworld.blogspot.in/2013/01/i-wish-i-had-one-more-chance-to.html) has been read by over 400 people till date. Guess, that is the power of Preeti’s blog.

2 comments:

Amit Agarwal said...

An engrossing tale of an Indian Women who as a young girl has ambitions and her own identity. Yet, she succumbs to parental pressures and ends up getting married to someone she doesn't look up. She has an independent house, a smart kid, high earning husband and supposedly everything that typical conservative Indian Parents would call for in a perfect Married life. But there's definitely more to life. An identity for oneself, a relationship with your better half that gives you space to breathe and be yourself, a friend in a husband. These are the traits Diksha never finds in her husband. A sequence of events that lead her to realizing what she wants our of life and that gives birth to her "Secret Wishlist".
The narration is beautiful and only an Author of the Caliber of Preeti Shenoy can put forth her ideas so flawlessly that you build an instant connect. Her style of writing hits you gently yet deep within, that you would want to get up and take charge of your life, married or unmarried, young or old, the novel will push you to pause and think if you are what you wanted in life. If not, it's time to get up and get going. Preeti Shenoy has a clear and lucid style of writing that keeps you gripped to the novel. I finished it in 3 hours straight and I am all charged up to take ownership of my life.

Santhosh Pandit said...

Not all love stories have happy endings, and the ones that do have are the lucky few… This book truly inspires someone to move on in their individual lives after the devastating break-up…Love is a beautiful thing as long as it lasts, but when it ends it takes a lot to get over it.

This story revolves around four main characters namely: Shruti, Rishabh, Aman and Anjali. Each of this character is beautifully etched by Preeti. This story tells you the reaction of each and every character and as a reader you feel connected to their emotions.

The thing I liked most while reading this story is that each character takes the story ahead as the first person. The entire book is narrated by the three lead characters Shruti, Aman and Anjali. Each chapter has one of their names and the narration from their point of view. So, there is no third person narration involved. As a writer myself, it really appealed to me in a big way!

Preeti, thanks for a good read. I am waiting for your next book!