Book Review | The Bitter Half by Simon
Genre: Legal thriller
No. of pages: 264
Published by: Leadstart Publishing
Published on: 24th December 2020
My rating: ★★★☆☆
For Sumit, life was on the right track with a successful and promising career ahead, so, little did he expect it to hit him so hard, that it would disrupt normalcy and force him to take a path least traversed. With shattered dreams and no hopes of resuscitation, he collects back those pieces and starts rebuilding everything from scratch in order to recoup his honour and dignity.
Alternating between timelines of the past and present, set against the backdrop of Haldia, Rourkela and Mumbai; Simon's debut novel The Bitter Half : a dichotomy of Trust & Betrayal is inspired by a set of true events that provides a poignant view into the dark world of a litigant’s melancholic sufferings.
The book starts off with a middle-aged Bengali couple being arrested by the police. Upon asking the reason behind their arrest, they get to know that the entire Ghosh family, including their son and daughter working in Mumbai, has been charged with section 498A of IPC. It has been issued by the in-laws of Sumit, the Ghosh's son. Section 498A is the Dowry Law - an often misused charge used in false allegations of domestic violence cases against men. Now, Sumit is a victim, accused by the powerful Chell family, for their own selfish needs.
The story is set across Haldia, Rourkela and Mumbai and it's a powerful plot. The readers empathize with Sumit. He has to run between Rourkela and Mumbai while financially bleeding because of the wrongful allegations. So much so that he has to go into hiding with his entire family. His future is jeopardized and he is at his wit's end. The author masterfully narrates Sumit and his wife's past, and gradually progresses the story to tell us how a happy couple ends up in this situation.
The author dissects section 498A and uses the plot of the book to show how it is often wrongfully misused to extract money from the husband's family or settle family feuds. Through this book, I, as a reader got to know about a lot of other charges that usually follows this section, and the hassle and harassment the husband's family usually faces. Not to forget, how the lawmakers mistreat these cases causing the husband years and years to recuperate.
I found the book immensely informative. It perfectly captures what goes behind the scenes when it comes to fighting false allegations. From sketchy lawyers who would stoop low to extract money from law-abiding clients, to keeping influential police officers in your hands if you have the power to do so. It showcases the dirty politics at play when a party is accused of dowry.
The story does get confusing at times though, because the narration constantly shifts between the past and the present. The book sometimes gets too technical when the police proceedings take place. I felt the story got too draggy in places, because it describes every single Sumit's visitation at the police station. Nevertheless, I really appreciate the author for crafting a story from such a huge and important social issue.
The writing is easy to follow. However, as already mentioned, the story goes back and forth between two timeline which makes it complicated to follow. I liked how the author used Sumit as a medium to explain us readers about the various law-related terms in an easy language. Also, there's a lot of Odiya terms and sentences used which can be understood only if you understand the context. I do wish there were more dialogues, because sometimes the descriptive style of the book felt unnecessarily stretched. But considering this was the debut novel of the author, I must applaud the author for writing such an important book.
Simon is a Mechanical Engineer with Masters in Business Management. He has been a Consumer Insights professional throughout his career and has served Market Research biggies like KANTAR-IMRB and Nielsen before leading and managing roles at some of the renowned corporates and start-ups in BFSI, Real Estate and eCommerce segments. Meeting consumers and listening to their preferences and viewpoints
helped him craft stories for Brands he has handled, which later got transformed into his passion for storytelling. The Bitter Half: a dichotomy of Trust & Betrayal is his debut novel, which is inspired by a set of true events.
He is based out of Mumbai, and is a passionate quizzer who likes to explore varieties of cuisines. He is also in absolute love with Spanish flicks and retro Bollywood numbers.
I received a copy of the book in exchange of an unbiased and honest review.