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Questioning Stereotypes In Chick-lit

Gauri Mishra

By Madhuri Banerjee
Penguin Metro Reads, 2011, pp. 232, 150.00

By Ismita Tandon Dhankher
Penguin, Delhi, 2011, pp. 210, 150.00


The title of Madhuri Banerjee's novel Losing My Virginity and Other Dumb Ideas is a misnomer and is in danger of inviting a frivolous reader who would probably pick it up for its novelty value. Written in a fresh, spontaneous and racy manner, the novel follows the chick-lit genre quite religiously. One is instantly reminded of Advaita Kala's Almost Single, but only at the very beginning. As the novel progresses, it turns into an interesting portrayal of a single woman who makes her choices on her own terms. Kaveri is thirty and still single. In her search for the perfect man whom she dreams about, she makes a lot of mistakes but eventually becomes independent and finds happiness within. The novel is a journey spanning a year and a half but in terms of experience, Kaveri lives a lifetime in this time period. Losing My Virginity criticizes every single aspect of a woman’s life which can be termed regressive. The way women are perceived is something that it highlights in the portrayals of Kaveri and her best friend Aditi. These women hate to cook and clean, their life revolves around having endless cups of coffee at cafes and, after a bit of freelancing, going out for drinks with friends. Aditi has been portrayed as a reckless young woman who has no compunction about sleeping with a man if he is rich enough to meet her insatiable need for the luxuries of life. Banerjee's forte is her humour. Kaveri's desperate search for the right man, her admiration for Aditi's escapades, the 'Reality Show' in all its reality and her love-hate relationship with her parents are interspersed with humour and irony. Her self-deprecating monologues add immediately to the first person narrative. Kaveri's growth into a woman who stops trying to find perfect love is quite endearing. She is happy about finding a new job every time she is at a loose end. What makes this novel interesting is the way it attempts to describe a woman’s recognition, awareness and acceptance of her sexuality. The aftermath of her failed relationship with a married man is handled without the melodrama that is normally associated with such writing. Without a hint of self-consciousness, Banerjee describes love in all its physicality and abandon. The men in the novel are all stereotypes of the tall, dark and handsome hero of the Mills and Boon variety. ...

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