Title: A Hundred Little Flames
Author: Preeti Shenoy
Originally Published: 2017
Publisher: Westland Books
I have read almost all the books by Preeti Shenoy. Her last book was quite a disappointment and so when this book came out, I decided to stay away. After reading too many positive reviews of the book on my facebook reading group, I decided to go for it. I was certainly in for a refreshing treat. The book is the author’s best work so far, in my opinion.
‘A Hundred Little Flames’ is a heartwarming family drama that explores the bond of friendship that develops between a young man and his aging grandfather. Ayan loses his job after a success party fiasco and after months of unsuccessful job hunt, retreats to his ancestral hometown in Kerala where his grandfather Gopal Shanker lives in a huge mansion. Soon Ayan falls in love with the sleepy, idyllic village and its laid back ways. But Jairaj, his domineering father has other plans. He wants to sell off the mansion and since Gopal Shanker is adamant at not selling it, he is forcibly admitted to a mental asylum while Ayan is away. Ayan tracks down his grandfather with the help of his friends. It was during this incident that Ayan comes across his grandfather’s old diaries and came across a beautiful love story of two people whose fates didn’t allow them to get married. Ayan learned the true meaning of love and gets a new perspective through his grandfather’s love story.
As I said earlier, I wasn’t too impressed by the author’s earlier works but this book has changed my perception. The narrative is engaging. The story is set in Kerala and being a Malyali herself, the author has beautifully described the scenic beauty of Kerala. You get a glimpse of the true beauty of Kerala and Pondicherry through the author’s detailed narratives. The dialogues have a touch of the local language with the English translation at the bottom of the page. The fast, gripping pace of the story keeps the readers engaged till the end.
The book deals with relationships with themes like disregard of the children towards their aging parents, the loneliness faced by the old people who are rarely visited by their children, appreciation of the deeper things in life, the superficiality of love in today’s era where physical lust is often mistaken for love and the true love that’s so surreal and exquisite.
The characters are real and readers can relate to their struggles. I bet, many old people can relate to the loneliness of Gopal Shanker and how he is misunderstood and neglected by his own children while the young readers can relate to the journey of Ayan who has to dance to the tunes of his dominating father.
This compelling and poignant story about a regular Indian family makes for a good read. I had a great time reading it. It’s a book to be read at slow pace and at leisure while enjoying every minute of reading it.
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