WRITING STYLE: 3/5
ENTERTAINMENT QUOTIENT: 3/5
“Intelligence was the most misunderstood word in human existence. Intelligence does not mean having information, knowledge, or skills. Oh, she was herself at a loss to explain. Not getting up to smoke was, in a way, prolonging that feeling of ‘intellectual discomfort’. Denying herself a smoke was part of it when the actual ‘intellectual comfort’ was missing, then one relives it by creating a diversion within oneself, by denying oneself ‘some daily routine habit’, a ‘comfortable disequilibrium’ was created.”
– Indrani Mirajkar, Au Contraire, Mademoiselle!
Every now and then I come across a book that has great potential and I am often bowled over by the creativity of our Indian authors.
March is the month of the Femme March Fest wherein book lovers all over India (and presumably all over the world) try and read as many female authors as possible. I too decided to dedicate this month to female authors.
So, it was in March that I decided to pick up the book, Au Contraire, Mademoiselle! by Indrani Mirajkar, a book that is as intriguing as it is confusing.
Read on to know more about my thought on this one.
What to expect?
Au Contraire, Mademoiselle! is a complicated story of a complicated young woman. Expect a book that is not your regular read but one that challenges you as a reader.
Also, expect a book that is bound to break stereotypes and stir a few feathers here and there.
Finally, expect a book that shows a lot of promise but which is let down only by its own complexity.
Who can read?
Reading this book is no mean feat. It takes a lot of determination to manoeuvre one’s way through the complex workings of Rani’s (the protagonist) and the author’s mind.
The book is at times random and at other times quite abrupt, often disrupting the story’s natural flow.
Combine this with a language that is too complicated for an average reader and you have a book that can only be picked up by a niche category of readers – those who are willing to challenge themselves and/or those who are voracious readers. As for the rest, my advice will be to look for something simpler.
Let’s talk about the storyline
Rani is a young girl from a big city whose determination borders on stubbornness. She is fiercely independent, highly opinionated, brutally honest and quite set in her ways. She doesn’t like company and yet she doesn’t detest people the way most sociopaths do.
She arrives in a small town willing to pursue an education in law and as can be expected, is able to make heads turn right on her very first day of college.
As days turn into months and months into years, Rani emerges as a strong woman who lives life on her own terms and is never afraid of breaking stereotypes.
Au Contraire, Mademoiselle! is the story of Rani which spans right from her college days till the point she becomes a successful and one of the most sought-after lawyers in the country.
How good are the characters?
The characters are what make this book click. There are many characters that manage to intrigue the reader and keep them hooked onto their stories.
Rani as a protagonist is very dynamic with a depth that only a few authors can manage to pull off.
Other characters including Raja, Vijay and David are also equally mysterious in their own ways.
Let’s talk about the author’s writing style
When it comes to the author’s writing style, there are many things that I would like to mention here.
What put me off the most is just how random the entire book is. Yes, the author does drop a hint about it right in the beginning but that doesn’t help the reader much except prepare her mentally for what is coming next.
If only the author could separate the protagonist Rani’s randomness from her own writing, this book would have been a much more enjoyable read.
The fact that the language is complex and the narratives often messy also don’t help much.
Another thing that put me off is the way how all the characters behave so irrationally all the time. Their actions aren’t really practical and the reader is always questioning the logic behind these actions. In the end, this adds to the already confusing narrative.
What I liked?
I like books that manage to create an aura of mystery about everything under the sun and Indrani in this book does that very well.
Right from the big city where Rani comes from to the small town that she lands into – the author does not disclose any names. Even the names of the protagonist and other characters weren’t disclosed until a very long time. That does help to arouse the reader’s interest.
I also liked how the author manages to break so many stereotypes that are often associated with Indian women. It is quite liberating to read about such fiercely independent women.
An unexpected and quite unconventional romance (sort of) also spices up things a little bit. It is a kind of romance that teases more than it delivers and that is what I enjoyed.
How good is the climax?
The climax of Au Contraire, Mademoiselle! hits you like a burst of chilling wind right in the middle of a hot sunny day. It is that unexpected.
The fact that the climax is unpredictable doesn’t help the reader much. For one, it is too confusing. Secondly, it is too detached from the main story in the sense that it fails to convince the reader.
To put it in simpler words – It is so unexpected that it is unbelievable (if you get what I mean)!
It all boils down to the entertainment quotient
This is a book that I have mixed feelings about. The dynamic characters are its strong point but their actions are not. A decent plot coupled with some disruptive and sexually erotic scenes manages to spice things up.
But in the end, it is the over complicated telling of a story that could have been told in a much simpler way that leaves me a tad unsatisfied with the whole experience.
Pick up the book
- If you are looking for a book with a strong female character.
- If you enjoy books that break stereotypes.
- If you like books that leave you shocked in the end.
- If you don’t mind reading complicated books.
Skip the book
- If you are looking for a simple read.
- If you are looking for a literary fiction.
- If you are looking for a 4 star or above entertainer.
Can’t wait to read it? Buy your copy of Au Contraire, Mademoiselle! using the link below.