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Review: Custody by Manju Kapur

Books • 3rd December, 2011 • No DiscussionTweet

Verdict: As foreign investments please the new Indian economy, a foreign affair shakes the foundations of customs, love & motherhood.
Rating: 2.5/5

Available at: Any leading bookstore.
Publisher: Random House India
Price: 450 INR

With a serious yet soft tone, Custody captures a topic so delicate that it tests one’s own moral judgments and the core principle of a marriage: love. After four best selling novels, Manju Kapur tells the story of a couple, Raman and Shagun and their two children in this book. A typical middle class family, Raman who functions brilliantly at his job in a multi-national company, The Brand, is unable to give time to his bored and beautiful wife.

Enter Ashok Khanna – as his name would suggest, his character is strong, powerful, and is used to getting everything he lays his eyes on. And this time it is Shagun; and all hell breaks loose when Shagun decides to call off her marriage to be united forever with her new found lover. Taking a small Bollywood twist, Raman turns into a vengeful victim when asked for a divorce and the story progresses.

Though it was a little nerve-wrecking that the children were not mentioned till the second half of the read, it might as well have been called The Broken Children. When they are mentioned, they’re involved in a nasty custody battle that would leave any child scarred. Not only are there two sets of parents with new found lovers but they don’t even seem to be the old characters. This shift, however heart-wrenching it may be, has been captured beautifully by Manju as she almost gets inside the minds of the children. From living a life of loved children, they have been turned into victims of their parents’ vicious game. This is one thing to strongly wait for as one reads the book.

Throughout the novel, Manju Kapur has a constant and almost poetic emotional tone, making this piece of fiction more than a social commentary but a true story of modern marriage that exists around us. This is especially true in today’s world. Despite being a heavy read, this book should be read once. With Manju’s ruthlessly honesty, this book highlights the voice of the children and sheds light on their situation when parents are replaced by lawyers and lovers.