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Tuesday 7 April 2015

Leap of Faith - Book Review

Leap of faith does what Hum Aap ke Hain Kaun and DDLJ did to the movies. It pulls out a big fat Indian (Haven't we learnt from the movies that all Indian weddings mean Punjabi weddings?) with all the seven days elaborate marriage cermonies including the sangeet, mehandi, milni. To add more flavour here the bride is German.

The Punjabi groom has an old grandmother who is against the wedding. She does not want her grandson to marry a firangan. Though everybody respects her, no body is willing to accept her take on her grandson's marriage with a German. In one of the ceremonies the music system gets blown up. As a result the groom's father's turban catches fire. In another instance the would be German bride hurts herself while trying to wear glass bangles. Finally the ornaments which have been handed over from one generation to another and which the eldest daughter-in-law is supposed to get in her marriage, get stolen. The devious Dadi who has been helpless in preventing her grandson getting married to a foreigner tries to convince everyone that all these incidents are bad omens and God is giving them signals to stop the marriage. But no body listens to her.

Needless to say the couple gets married inspite of all the odds. But do they get the stolen jewellery back? Who is the thief? These questions will be answered only when you read Leap of Faith which is undoubtedly one of the finest books written in the recent times.

Yes we have had exotic weddings involving even the foreign nationals in our books, especially in the romance genre. But the situations and instances in those books were predictable and at times even banal and childish. The characters were stereotyped and they lacked any depth.

Leap of faith comes up with natural dialogues and equally natural reactions to them. The book is full of conversations and interactions which we can absolutely relate to. They come directly from the real life into the printed matter in the book. I guess the author, who herself is a German married to a Punjabi, has picked lot of incidents from her real life and weaved characters around them.

There are minor misunderstandings. There are apprehensions. There are celebrations. The author does not waste a single line in unnecessary descriptions. The flow of the novel is commendable. The way she weaves the story around the mundane daily life instances is simply brilliant. She choses not to bore her readers with the elaborate descriptions of the Indian customs which they already know.

This is an extended Punjabi family. Punjabi men and women have the same names. That creates confusion at some places as the writer does not address the women characters with the suffix kaur. The thread of Preeti's divorce is not taken to its end. I felt that the line on page no. 146 “she manages to response” is incorrect. It should have been “she manages to respond”

The writer manages to weave the plot very subtly, very softly. This was indeed a challenge given that the plot itself is wafer thin. But still she manages to keep you engaged and brings out the novel very well.

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