Verdict: Meghna Pant has taken a much discussed idea, and written a wonderful novel with subtle humor and some emotional moments.
Available at: Any leading bookstore
Price: 250 INR
While the plot and the numerous characters lined out in Meghna Pant’s, One and a Half Wife, could be considered to have a cliched storyline with stereotypical characters, but her control over the language and ability to keep the reader hooked on to the book is what has made this simple and while heard of story into an emotional page turner.
14 year old Amara Malhotra’s fate has been sealed; the smartest bird in India, has spoken, “Babyji will be one-and-half wife!” And there begins the Big American Dream for little Amara as she follows the path outlined for her under “Biji’s Desire”. Almost all of Amara’s struggles and decisions lead to one outcome, to find her Prince Charming with her perfect Green card life.
But that is not what life has planned for her.
Yes, she does take a big step into the big American dream; yes, she does find her wealthy prince charming; and yes, all of her mother’s dreams are turned into a magical reality, but then right there, married to millionaire Prashant Roy comes the turning point to Amara’s life. It’s during the marriage, and especially after it, when she realizes the importance of her life, “My Desire”.
Pant carefully goes into the social stigma attached to ‘die-forces’ (read: divorces); and takes us through an once orthodox yet changing society in India and its notions on divorcees and their life. With a slight filmy twist in the story, Amara’s life sees it all, from her parents almost disowning her, society (along with some very bad guys) shunning her, a helpful Didi and eventually, her dream Man. All neatly coming together in the end to make Amara the perfect One and a Half Wife.
An enjoyable read, Meghna Pant has taken a thoroughly discussed idea and written a wonderful novel with subtle humor, some very touching moments and shown us how the great American dream while plaguing the common man, also brings out strengths that would otherwise have been suppressed.