It's nice to have something to cling onto when you are away from home. Maybe a book or a jukebox. These are like fragments of home you can carry around. Siri cannot cure you of homesickness, but a book pulled off your shelf could. I learnt this powerful life lesson while reading Shinie Antony's The Girl Who Couldn't Love.
Roo, the protagonist of the novel, is an English teacher at a local school. Her passionate affair with Kumar, a man much younger than her, brightens up her otherwise humdrum life ''with its mundane chores and queries, its bills to pay and clothes to collect from the dhobi.''
Roo harbours some secrets, which she fiercely shields from Kumar, only to realise that their lives are entwined by the past.
The surprising twists and turns in the plot make the novel enjoyable like a roller-coaster ride. The way Antony paints the myriad shades of love, lust and in betweens, with a pinch of sassiness leaves one mesmerised.
Roo is a full-blown character. So is her nearly blind mom, who lives in a make-believe world. How did Antony find her characters? ''Most of my female characters have always been over 40, so I have been middle-aged in my head forever,'' says Antony who is popularly known as Chetan Bhagat's editor. ''Roo is yet another woman making sense of her world. She has little to say but the baggage defines her,'' she adds.
It took Antony just five days to wrap up the first draft, but three months to polish it. ''The book holds a lot of anger, there wasn’t a dull moment writing it,'' she recalls.
I slipped the book into my backpack bag, hoping to pass time while waiting for my cab. Antony kept me hooked until I reached my destination. The Girl who Couldn't Love is the kind of book that can make you less cranky while having to bear with a delayed flight. The tale of ''a family that got a little dysfunctional'' leaves you shaken to the core.