Author– Bhaavna Arora
Publisher– Penguin Books India
Genre- Fiction (Inspired from real-life stories)
Price- Rs 199
Amazon (Rs 139)– http://www.amazon.in/Mistress-Honour-Bhaavna-Arora/dp/0143425285
The first thing that I wish to tell you about this book is that it is a product of labour. The connect that the author has with the storyline is purely visible. I picked up the book and the first thing that delighted me was the wonderfully done cover art. The bokeh at the back cover had a mesmerizing feel to it. The blurb had a hauntingly painful tone. Talks of coming ‘a close second’ sort of ring in old memories in the mind. The right kind of wistfulness is evoked by the overall feel of the book cover.
The drama has major historical events that shook the Indian subcontinent running in the background. In that way, the book draws inspiration from many other such pieces of literature already on the shelves. The Operation Bluestar, the IPKF operation on LTTE in Sri Lanka, they all make appearances in the storyline. The story begins with Pansy and Potnis- to star-crossed lovers meeting amidst flying bullets and dying people. A certain Hindi film vibe cannot be denied here.
The author is a Shobha De fan and that may be the reason why the book hits you right in the feels. Still, the nitty-gritties of the army operations covered in the book, for example the one in Assam against the ULFA terrorists are pretty close to reality. The research behind the book is self-evident.
The book should appeal to those who look for simple stories with an emotional value. The author has not tried to create a literary masterpiece. The book is high on drama, sex, action and other basic components of a racy thriller. Unlike thrillers though, this book has a purpose. The well deserved glorification of the Indian armed forces runs like a ribbon across the pages of this book, tying it all together.
The story can easily be divided into two parts. The first part is about Potnis and Pansy and their struggles while in the second half, their daughter Rihana’s journey on the path of attaining her destiny takes centre stage. There are army operations, love affairs, selfless sacrifices interspersed throughout the novel. Heroism is displayed in the pages with the depiction of defence personnel’s personal sacrifices and acts of courage.
Potnis is an army officer with a sense of duty. His love for Pansy comes a close second to his love for the country. Their daughter Rihana has seen a lot in her growing years and is wise beyond her years. These make for cardboard ‘good’ characters with less scope to improvise. Advik is the yang to all this yin. He is carefree, promiscuous and untamed. He is also Rihana’s love interest much to the dismay of her sworn brother Kabir. All the characters are likable and there are no obvious villains except circumstances.
The language is kept simple and minimal army jargon is used. The novel is well researched and makes for a believable read.
I would give the book 3 stars out of 5. An additional 0.5 stars for the ease of reading. I could finish the book well within four hours.
Final verdict- 3.5/5