Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Secret Wishlist by Preeti Shenoy


Have you ever been banished from your parents' good books because of a secret kiss when you were just sixteen?

Did you spend nearly all your life trying to win back the trust and approval of your parents for that one mistake you made?

Have you regretted your marriage that your parents rushed you into and you agreed out of sheer guilt? 

Have you ever made a secret wishlist with something like "have sex with someone other than husband" on it? 

Yes or no, don't miss reading Preeti Shenoy's recently released novel titled 'The Secret Wishlist.' 




From page one, you are bound to get pulled into Diksha's loveless marriage, her constant adjustments to Sandeep, a husband who expects everything to be done to suit his preference at all times and her need to feel valued as a person. There are so many instances when you would simply grit your teeth and wish that her boor of a husband would do something, anything, to just appreciate his wife. But no, that doesn't happen.  

While reading this, I thought of another book that I had read titled 'The One and a Half Wife' by Meghna Pant about an Indian girl whose parents arranged her marriage to a rich and handsome NRI but he is constantly judging her and finding fault with her than appreciating her and yes, they end up divorcing. 

The protagonist Diksha in 'The Secret Wishlist'  goes through and how she finds her character becoming more defined and sharpened when she makes the choices for her own happiness. I was also reminded of 'Custody' by Manju Kapurwhen Diksha meets Abhay her old school crush and they begin to meet secretly. (Correction from a reader called @Anonymous: It is not Abhay, it is Ankit whom Diksha meets secret....) A big thanks to Anonymous for pointing this out.  

I liked the character of Vibha who helps Diksha to put together a wishlist. But the same Vibha  distances herself from Diksha when she finds out about her leaving her husband for Ankit, her old school crush. Hard, tough questions are bound to come up in a society that is conservative about other people's choices, particularly that of married women. But once Diksha makes up her mind, she steels herself to face what lies ahead, even the reproach and anger of her parents and brother. 
   
There are some aspects of the story where as a reader, I wished to know more about. 

For instance, while Diksha and her husband are obviously locked in a loveless marriage, it would have been good to know his side of the story too. I wanted to know more on how Diksha's husband perceives her or what is his back story for the way he behaves to her, something on those lines.

Just as a coin has two sides, every character has a good and bad side. Diksha does try to communicate with her husband but I felt that she gives up too easily on him. Or is that she fears to confront him? Ultimately, the marriage breakdown is also because the couple did not communicate to each other clearly enough.  

Abhay's feelings about his mother's relationship with Ankit is another aspect of the story that would have been interesting to know about in greater detail. 

Secretly, I had liked the character of Gaurav, the salsa teacher, so much that I had hoped that Gaurav and Diksha would fall in love with each other and make a life together. They seemed to have 'chemistry' sizzling right from the time they meet. So it feels slightly like an anti-climax that it is Ankit who boomerangs back into Diksha's life again and somehow Ankit's character at the beginning wasn't one that you'd feel impressed with as a reader but then there is the issue of age - he was probably playing his age at the time. Gaurav, on the other hand, seemed to be perfect hero material for Diksha.

 In her writing, Preeti Shenoy deftly grasps a reader's need to be encouraged to live, to love and to be of significant value in the lives of loved ones.

Liked this book review? Then check out these too:
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19 comments:

Mélange said...

You know what ? Just after completing this book two days back,I had the vibes that you are going to scribble on this..Lol..that's here.

In fact,I loved this story telling better than her other two books.Though this loveless marriage is where she anchors both her (piece of cake and tea for two) stories,this one I know several of such real life characters.And to the genuine question you have asked there on why Diksha gives up easily,that's just natural Swapna.A girl who has nothing to hold on,an education to relax,who opted for an earlier submission,how can she talk ? Then yes,I too believe this Abhay or the kids in her 'piece of cake... reacted is little bit boring.Of course what she trying to say is evident.If a father been so self obsessed,the kids are tend to go away as well.But Preethi,as an author has to think it over.Cliches won't work for any writer.She has to come up with innovative ideas to be with the audience.
Thanks Swapna.(vibha is okay but loved Tanu more for being the real non-judgmental support)

Shilpa Garg said...

Wow!! Looks very promising!! Will definitely check it out! :)

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R. Ramesh said...

interesting..how u doing ji? spl hi to fmly...waiting to c u all guys in dxb..wishes always

Mom with a Dot said...

Very interesting review Swapna! Seems like I would like reading this one.
Was thinking of you as I posted a spiritual post last night!

Swapna Raghu Sanand said...

Ha ha, Melange, it seems like our minds and thoughts are connected and whoa, the post manifested your thoughts. :)

About the characterization, yes, I got your point about why it may have been difficult for Diksha to have put forth a strong confrontation with her husband.
You are right about kids turning away from self-obsessed father. That makes sense.

Swapna Raghu Sanand said...

Hey Shilpa, do let me know your thoughts on it.

Swapna Raghu Sanand said...

All's going well RameshJI. Hope to see you and family in Delhi too. Sanand conveys his regards and Adi sends a big hug to you :)

Swapna Raghu Sanand said...

Do let me know your thoughts on this book. Nice to know you thought of me while posting something spiritual - that means a lot to me personally. A BIG THANK YOU.

Anonymous said...

Hi swapna, i have read the book "The Secret Wish List" and also your review on it. im very impressed by your writing skills :)i would like to see you as a author too. and i would like to make you aware that you have written "when Diksha meets Abhay her old school crush and they begin to meet secretly", it is ankith there and not abhay that she meets :)

Swapna Raghu Sanand said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Swapna Raghu Sanand said...

@Anonymous: Thank you so much for the encouraging words and warm feedback. Hope to hit the book stands some day as an author too:) And you know what, that correction was a very good one coz I had missed that altogether. What a blooper! Hey, its really good to get such honest feedback, many thanks once again!

Anonymous said...

your welcome :) and thank you for the reply. please do let me know if you publish a book. Because i will be the first to read it :)

Ann Hamilton said...

I am from Illinois US & visit India quite often. 20 years back when I started visiting India, I would never have found a statement such as this in Indian media, much less in a public book review -

"Have you ever made a secret wishlist with something like "have sex with someone other than husband" on it?"

An increasing number of Indian writers nowadays are focusing on the female adultery theme in their writings. Noticed this first while at my friend home in south Delhi where I occasionally stay when I visit Northern India. Her daughter had a collection of these books on her shelf. Both Mom & daughter share these books. Another friend of mine in Southern India tells me of the private book club which she recently hosted at her home, where the members (all female) read their personal writings (in the same genre).

These are considered natural in the west. But what is the driving force behind the trend in a country where sex is a huge taboo? This will have difficulty coexisting with the lofty traditional values Indian women follow (and find pride in doing so), but what concerns me is: won't the subtle/indirect sexual cues from married & single women be picked up by male members of society leading to undesirable consequences?

Amit Agarwal said...

An engrossing tale of an Indian Women who as a young girl has ambitions and her own identity. Yet, she succumbs to parental pressures and ends up getting married to someone she doesn't look up. She has an independent house, a smart kid, high earning husband and supposedly everything that typical conservative Indian Parents would call for in a perfect Married life. But there's definitely more to life. An identity for oneself, a relationship with your better half that gives you space to breathe and be yourself, a friend in a husband. These are the traits Diksha never finds in her husband. A sequence of events that lead her to realizing what she wants our of life and that gives birth to her "Secret Wishlist".
The narration is beautiful and only an Author of the Caliber of Preeti Shenoy can put forth her ideas so flawlessly that you build an instant connect. Her style of writing hits you gently yet deep within, that you would want to get up and take charge of your life, married or unmarried, young or old, the novel will push you to pause and think if you are what you wanted in life. If not, it's time to get up and get going. Preeti Shenoy has a clear and lucid style of writing that keeps you gripped to the novel. I finished it in 3 hours straight and I am all charged up to take ownership of my life.

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