August 10, 2020
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A New Hat

Two of my favourite easy-read genres in one: a mystery novel and chick lit.

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A New Hat
Secrets And Lies
By Jaishree Misra
HarperCollins | 406 pages | Rs 275

This book was not what I was expecting from Jaishree Misra. I liked her previous work even if it was a bit safe, sticking to themes she was familiar with: love and relationships without any uncomfortable twists in the tale. Secrets And Lies, on the other hand, deals with several new themes, especially for Indian “chick lit” writing—there’s death, a possible murder, jealousy and none of the conventional stuff, so you won’t find your token gay best friend or the heinous boss.

The book is about four former schoolmates recalled by the principal to shed light on a classmate’s death during their last year at school. Three of the women now live in London—a rich, bored wife, a woman struggling with a bad marriage, and a ‘career woman’. The fourth character, a Bollywood star, seems as if she was thrown in by chance.

Misra has a knack for dialogues and for getting people’s emotions down pat. I also liked the fact that she dealt with the strong bonds of female friends as the novel’s main theme. Friendship is often overlooked for love or treated as a subplot, but here it’s the very substance. But I wish there had been more of a resolution in the end. It felt almost as if the story led up to a precipice and then you really didn’t know what happened next to anyone. The tying up of loose ends is something I, as a reader, enjoy, but perhaps it’s a deliberate ploy on Misra’s part, a feeling of uncertainty about the future that we share along with her characters.

Reading Secrets and Lies was getting two of my favourite easy-read genres in one: a mystery novel and chick lit. This is something you should add to your rainy-day-with-a-cup-of-tea book list.

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