WRITING STYLE: 3/5
ENTERTAINMENT QUOTIENT: 3/5
I love reading ‘slice of life’ books. They always have a lesson or two about the vagaries of life. I recently had a chance to read one such book that changed my perceptions about money.
It is an inspirational story that appealed to the reader in me in more than one way. And in turn, taught me some invaluable lessons.
Read on to know more about my thoughts on Anush Ravindranathan’s “Samsara: Reflections of a Life”; a book that contains a simple yet life-changing message.
What to expect?
Expect a book that has a beautiful story and a carefully conceived plot. Expect a coming of age novel that reflects the dreams and aspirations of an underprivileged boy.
Expect a book that sheds some important light on the true essence of life. Expect a book that lets you reflect on your own ideas about happiness and relationships.
And finally, expect a book that unfortunately does not come without editing mistakes.
Who can read?
Since the book is written in an easy language and a simple manner, it can be picked by a beginner level reader.
Let’s talk about the storyline
Kuttan, a hardworking young man has had a life full of challenges and regrets. He is an aspiring entrepreneur who wants to make big money and a name for himself.
But somewhere in his journey, he has lost all hopes. When his love and ultimate pillar of strength Maya leaves him, Kuttan sees no reason to continue this wretched life.
He decides to end his life on the same day it began twenty-nine years ago.
He sets the clock for midnight but while waiting for the designated time, he decides to have a last look at his life.
This is the story of Kuttan and his final quest for the meaning of life. This is the story of his self-realization.
How good is the writing style?
The writing has a lot of potential and huge scope for improvement.
It is hasty and amateurish in many parts but signs of brilliance are there, nevertheless. The author’s understanding of the world that he writes about is commendable and is aptly reflected in his writing.
I also like the use of vernacular to enthuse that ‘local’ flavour in storytelling.
The backstories and linking of past with present have been done well. And there are enough elements of subtle mystery that intrigue the reader and keep her invested in Kuttan’s story.
Further, vivid descriptions of both people and places manage to bring them alive to the reader.
Coming to areas of improvement, it is the characters that need a bit more clarity. They are confused and they end up confusing the reader too.
Their transformations, wherever applicable are not as smooth as one would expect it to be.
What did I like?
“Samsara: Reflections of a Life” begins on an interesting note.The author draws a beautiful parallel between a long winding road and the journey called life.
How a road that appears as smooth as silk is instead replete with deep craters, unseen waters, slippery dunes, beautiful valleys, and much more.
In all likelihood, it resembles the journey of life with its many ups and downs, struggles and opportunities, sorrows, and joys.
This small section with its amazing eloquence sets the bar high for the rest of the book.
I also love how the book serves as a life coach for anyone who wishes to learn from it.
What did I not like?
There are instances when certain chapters and sequence of events make no sense at all. These seem to be included on a whim as opposed to a carefully thought storyline.
There are times when conversations dominate important chapters without any kind of value addition. And when the book seems to be stuck in rhetoric without moving forward.
Some narratives are also repetitive in nature. All of this, when put together, tends to take away the momentum of an otherwise engaging read.
What could have been better?
Editing and grammar. The book has many of these errors. More of them in the latter half than the first.
Let’s talk about the characters
“Samsara: Reflections of a Life” is the story of Kuttan and the many people that shape him as an individual.
We see his father whom he loves unconditionally. We see his mother and his step-father, Ramesh, with whom he has a complicated relationship with.
We meet Gowri who ushers a new phase in his life and we finally meet Maya who changes his life forever.
While his relationships with other individuals are complex and believable. It is his romantic trysts that become the Achilles’ heel of the book.
There is absolutely no chemistry between him and Gowri or him and Maya.
Reading about these relationships doesn’t convince the reader of the passion and love between the characters. To sum it up, there is an evident lack of any real romance.
I also have certain misgivings about the character of Kuttan.
The first phase of his life shows him as a hardworking and smart character who manages to learn and earn on the basis of his entrepreneurial capabilities.
However, in the latter half, there are a lot of contradictions in his character.
He wants to be an entrepreneur but is naïve (read borderline stupid) about the way forward. It is hard to believe that this is the same guy who has been independent, entrepreneurial, and self-sufficient his entire life.
The way he behaves and often misbehaves with people around him makes him annoying.
While the reader learns to pity him in the first half, the same reader can’t help but feel irritated by him in the second half.
Is the climax good enough?
The climax of the book ends on a decent note but I have mixed feelings about it.
I like that the book ends on a profound note; sharing personal interpretations and common wisdom about the journey of life.
But that it leaves a lot of questions unanswered, makes the reader in me unsatiated.
It all boils down to entertainment
The book has a decent dose of entertainment and manages to keep the reader intrigued throughout the story.
In the end
In the end, “Samsara: Reflections of a Life” is a book that tells us a coming of age story of an underprivileged boy while teaching us a thing or two about life and its many paradoxes.
The final verdict
Can be read.
Pick the book if
- You like books that mix wisdom, spirituality, and storytelling.
- You enjoy coming of age stories.
- You like stories from different corners and voices of India.
- You like books that reflect the constant struggles between the haves and have nots.
- You like reading books that have eccentric or damaged main characters.
Skip the book if
- You don’t like books with poor editing.
- You don’t like books that ponder on the many vagaries of human existence.
- You don’t enjoy books that are slow-paced.
- You are looking for a five-star entertainer.
Can’t wait to read it? Buy your copy of “Samsara: Reflections of a Life” using the link below.