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Sandhya Rao

By Nikita Deshpande
Year 2016, pp. 265, Rs. 350.00

VOLUME XL NUMBER 11 November 2016

Reading Nikita Deshpande’s debut novel was a breeze. All those adjectives fit: racy, pacy, funny, quirky, lucid. Plus a plot that keeps you engaged. For me, the bonus was that the romance featured a writer and a marketing executive in a publishing house; it felt comfortable, right from the title onward. This review could end right here because all this is exactly what makes the book tick. Okay, so it’s chicklit, perhaps 7, on a scale of 1 to 10. It’s not quite Anuja Chauhan (Battle for Bittora, Those Pricey Thakur Girls), but it’s getting there. That’s a big compliment, by the way. It’s not cheesy like chicklit can be but is increasingly not, as writers get more and more adept at weaving words together. It’s not Diana Athill and VS Naipaul either—remember Stet, and all the books of Naipaul’s that she edited while she was at Andre Deutsch? Our hero, Jishnu Guha, is more Chetan Bhagat than Sir Vidia—at least in terms of the string of novels he produces that instantly strike a chord with zillions of SYTs and SYDs (sweet young things and smart young dudes—clearly, the lingo’s all wrong, blame it on my generation).Our Jishnu is pretty transparent, a son of the soil meets soul brother-type with a finger very much on the pulse of light romances that send the heart racing in different directions until finally it gets en route to a happy ending. Besides, his heart is in the right place, even though our heroine takes a while to figure that out. Amruta (not Amrita, mind) Adarkar, emerges from the embrace of a close-knit family in Pune, to work at Parker-Hailey’s Publishing in exciting Delhi. She thinks her boss, Mukhtar, is out to get her, she has a ‘thing’ for her colleague Arjun, and she absolutely cannot stand Jishnu Guha’s books and, by extension, him. It doesn’t matter that he’s the publisher’s darling for the big bucks he brings and for the easygoing guy he is. No surprises, then, how this recipe turns out. Still, Nikita Deshpande manages to give the ingredients her own twist. There’s the relationship with Arjun, and with her other colleagues, the way it goes with her boss, how she’s drawn into Jish’s company of surprisingly home-grown friends, the progressive aunt with whom ...

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