Friday, June 18, 2010
These Foolish Things : Deborah Moggach
Image Credit : Fantastic Fiction
I really should write a review immediately after I read the book! Three days is a long time in our lives! So many hours and moments nudged into them! All eminently forgettable yet still occupying valuable shelf life. These Foolish Things by Deborah Moggach was a book I picked up because, confession time, it was set in Bangalore. I have not read many books by English authors (read non-Indian) set in this hometown I don't like to call my own, but which I must out of the necessity of being born in the wrong place at the right time.
What happens when a good Indian doctor, Ravi Kapoor, married to an Englishwoman in London, meets his cousin, the effervescent Sonny from Bangalore? Well, sparks fly. Ideas happen. Dr Ravi and Sonny decide on an old trick - outsourcing - with a new product - retirement homes for old, doddering senior citizens who really should know better than to traipse across to that premier city of outsourcing, Bangalore. Let's say that Dr Ravi has a vested interest in it as well - to get rid of his obnoxious father-in-law, Norman Purse. The poor old man is air transported across to Dunroamin, the fanciful name for an old English bungalow that is purportedly set near MG Road, Bangalore. Several other interesting characters join the fray. There's Dorothy, ex-BBC, who appears sane in the beginning but rather 'dotty' towards the middle before resolving everything in the end. There's Evelyn, my favorite oldie in the fray, who has a difficult relationship with her children, Christopher and Theresa. More so with Theresa. The Ainslies, a 'happily' married couple whose facade of marriage Moggach rips apart heartlessly. Muriel, searching for her son, Keith who is on the run. And add a motley mix of Indians - in the form of the pedicurist nurse and her husband, who runs Dunroamin. I loved all the characters - they were warm, human, witty and touching. It's the sort of story that might touch those who were closer to their grandparents...or even those who are on the verge of becoming retirement homes themselves. But it's also the sort of story that may touch anyone who can overlook the flaws and be welcomed by the warmth of the characters.
There is always an action-packed page, fast-paced events despite the seeming seniority of many of Dunroamin's guests. In the background too looms Bangalore's accursed and blessed sobriquet of being a Silicon Valley, all plastic and elastic, and all the chips that make up this tattered-at-the-edges city of mine. What Moggach has done wonderfully well is to create characters you care for, and when you do that, the story moves along rapidly. The endings were a bit Hollywoodish, and several incidents were plain uncalled for, but overall the book held promise at the beginning, stuttered a bit here and there, but spun its way to some sort of a dramatic denouement that was satisfying.
However, Random House and Deborah Moggach, if you ever read this, please please employ a better proofreader, editor or researcher. What can I say when I see Halebid, that pristine place, spelled throughout the book as Halebib? I mean, not once. But three times? And this," all her hopes now rested in a remote Keralana village." Keralana? And somewhere, Bangalore's famous eatery, Mavalli Tiffin Rooms became Mevalli if I remember correctly. I don't take too kindly to errors in a book, and mistakes like this, which show poor research or editing, aggravate me no end. More so the pity because the story is really quite lovely.
Verdict : Lovely read, enjoyable.
Rating : 3.5/5