Book review | A Cage of Desire by Shuchi Singh Kalra
Author: Shuchi Singh Kalra
Genre: Drama, Romance Drama
No. of pages: 232
Published by: Penguin India
Published on: 21st May 2018
My rating: ★★★★★
Renu had always craved love and security, and her boring marriage, mundane existence somehow leads her to believe that, maybe, this is what love is all about. Maya, on the other hand, is a successful author who is infamous for her bold, erotic books.
What do these two women have in common? How are their lives intertwined?
Renu's thirst for love and longing takes her on a poignant journey of self-exploration. The answers come to her when she finds the courage to stand up for herself, to fight her inner demons and free herself from the cage of desires . . .
I usually stay away from books that have middle-aged characters with midlife crisis but I was really drawn towards this book when I read its blurb and particularly when I saw its cover photo. The cover has a very sensuous aura. A deep indigo with maroon floral design along with a painting of an Indian woman wearing bold make-up and a backless blouse. After reading the book, I know that the cover perfectly reflects what the book wants to tell us.
The book is about freedom. Freedom for every married Indian woman, whose desires are caged within the confines of our medieval society. This book is about 'Maya' and 'Maya' could be you or me.
It would not be a spoiler if I say that Renu and Maya are the same person and Renu's pen name is Maya, because this is revealed within the first few chapters. And anyway, if I hadn't mentioned this I wouldn't be able to discuss how I feel about Renu.
So Renu uses a pseudonym to write erotica. She lives in a conservative family which comprises of her old father-in-law, her two young children and a husband who lives away from home does not even bother coming home. She has to answer her father-in-law every time she gets a little late while doing grocery shopping, or if she is late serving the lunch or if there's any problem with the food. Basically, Renu has a nagging father-in-law who treats her like a servant and a husband who never supports her - an accurate representation of most Indian household. In her mundane and pathetic life enters Arjun. Arjun helps Renu flare up her desires and gives a wing to her creativity.
But her happiness does not last long. In a series of unfortunate twists and turns Renu learns to explore herself. This beautiful story is all about how Renu develops and finds her way towards finding the right person as well as the right life that she deserves.
To be honest, there's not much to be discussed about the story as the story is not particularly exceptional but I want to tell you about the raw emotions and the portrayal of Renu's inner turmoils, especially when she switches her role from Renu to 'Maya' and back from 'Maya' to Renu, that have been beautifully depicted in the book. The book has its share of dramatic twists and turns but it is the emotions that stand out the most.
There are a lot of sexual scenes in the novel and I loved reading each one of them only because the author does a tremendous job in describing the scenes using metaphors. The scenes are laid out in the most purest way.
I also loved how the author charactised Renu. Renu has a myriad of emotions in her and the ups and downs are intricately shown. There were times when I was getting frustrated because of the stupid ways in which Renu's weak heart was working but then I realised that Renu is a perfect image of an ordinary Indian middle class married woman. But the range of character development is immense. Renu changes from a timid woman into a (in the author's words) 'a glorious bird in the sky with fire in her soul and ferocity in her heart.' THIS, is the reason why I loved this book - it is empowering.
I am really glad I got to read this book because it is beautifully written. The author's writing style is almost lyrical, very poetic and this is why I was totally absorbed in the words. I recommend it to all readers. You may hate it (because many people don't like this genre or this type of books) but the book is very endearing and Renu's philosophies will clutch on to your heart.
Shuchi Singh Kalra is the Amazon bestselling author of two novels-Done with Men and I'm Big. So What!? Her short stories have appeared in Love across Borders, Stories for Your Valentine and NAW Anthology 2013. In her freelancing career of over a decade, Shuchi has written for major print and online publications such as Femina, Good Housekeeping, Hotelier International, Huffington Post and Home Review, among others. She has also been listed among the top women authors to follow on Twitter.
I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange of an honest and unbiased review.