PLOT: 3/5

“Life is like a black-and-white portrait… some areas have dark shades, while the others, light. You should neither be complacent in the bright phase when everything is going your way nor lose hope in the dark phase when life hurls sorrow, failure, or loneliness at you… Both the bright and dark shades are necessary, else the painting would solely be a white or black canvas. The combination of both creates the portrait of your life.”

Pankaj Giri, The Unforgettable Woman

It’s been quite some time since I’ve delved into a book set in the enchanting landscapes of the North East of India. If memory serves me right, the last ones that left a lasting impression on me were “The Black Hill” by Mamang Dai and “The King’s Harvest” by Chetan Raj Shrestha. So, when I stumbled upon Pankaj Giri’s latest offering, “The Unforgettable Woman,” it felt like a delightful addition to my North-East India reading list.

About the author

Born and raised amidst the serene landscapes of Gangtok, Sikkim, Pankaj Giri’s literary journey soared to new heights with the release of his bestselling novel, “The Fragile Thread of Hope,” which earned him a prestigious spot as a ‘Top 5 Finalist’ in the Amazon Pen to Publish Contest 2017. Pankaj’s remarkable storytelling prowess has earned him numerous awards and widespread acclaim from both readers and critics alike.

What is the story of The Unforgettable Woman (without spoilers)?

The narrative of this contemporary adult fiction beats with the stories of two central characters whose lives intersect in unexpected ways. Firstly, we meet Adarsh, a seasoned doctor at a local government hospital. His existence, once marked by simplicity and routine, takes a sudden turn when he encounters a mysterious woman from his past—a figure who vanished abruptly, leaving behind many unanswered questions.

On the other hand, there’s Smriti, a spirited young woman of twenty-five, embarking on a new chapter in her life. Joining a government school in a new town, she finds solace and happiness in a PG accommodation. Over time, she forms a close bond with the owner’s son, fulfilling a longing for brotherly relationship.

However, fate takes a sharp and unexpected turn. A series of dramatic events unfurl, unveiling a long-buried secret —one that threatens to dismantle both Adarsh and Smriti’s worlds.

Let’s talk about the writing

At the outset, the plot may seem straightforward, but it’s the intricacies of the narrative that lend it an air of mystery and intrigue. With each chapter named after a character, the story unfolds through their perspectives, drawing readers deeper into their individual journeys. The seamless transitions between past (1982) and present (2007) add layers of complexity, while also unveiling the full tapestry of these characters and their lives.

At its core, the book is a quintessential adult fiction intertwined with elements of family drama. It navigates through matters of familial relationships, delving into themes of unresolved family issues, marital discord, the bittersweet feelings of love and loss, and the transformative power of healing.

Through pages of “The Unforgettable Woman”, we bear witness to the fragility of familial bonds—how easily they can fracture, yet how arduous it is to keep them intact.

Ultimately, amidst the twists and turns of the plot, one resounding message emerges: family is the cornerstone of our existence.

What I like the most?

What captivated me most about “The Unforgettable Woman” was its masterful portrayal of the geographical and cultural tapestry of the Himalayan region. From the tantalizing aromas of local cuisine to the intricacies of age-old customs, the author skilfully imbues every page with the essence of the vibrant Sikkim culture. It felt like being transported to the heart of Sikkim, where the very air hums with a mystical energy.

What I found lacking?

Despite its strengths in setting and character development, I couldn’t help but feel a slight sense of disappointment in the storytelling. While the narrative unfolds steadily, there’s a missing spark—a lack of fervour and intrigue that would have elevated the book from a good read to an unforgettable one. I longed for that elusive quality that keeps you turning pages late into the night, craving to uncover what lies ahead.

In the end

In the end, however, “The Unforgettable Woman” remains a good choice for those drawn to tales of family dynamics and the beautiful cultural and physical landscape of the North-East of India. It’s a poignant exploration of relationships—not just the romantic kind, but also the unbreakable bonds of platonic love and familial ties. While it may not linger in my thoughts indefinitely, it offers a glimpse into a world where love takes on myriad forms—a world worth exploring, if only for a single journey.

Can’t wait to read it? Buy your copy of “The Unforgettable Woman” right away!