The book: Ladies Coupé, by Anita Nair
The edition: Italian translation by Francesca Diano, published as Beat (Neri Pozza) paperback, 332 pages.
The story: At 45 and single, Akhila is questioning her life, and because of that she embarks on a journey starting with a night train (do-something-rash-and-foolish style). Traveling with her are five other women, and during the night they exchange life stories.
My thoughts: I picked this book up because I loved the first book I read by Anita Nair – and I wasn’t disappointed. The author is good at creating very different characters and they sound very real. In all, the book is less of a novel than Mistress was, and more like a collection of stories, Decameron-style (I actually loved the idea of a night train as the constraint bringing several narrators together – I kept thinking about an essay I read way back, about Decameron-style collections), but even so it was passionating, much more than a short story collection. On a side note, I kept wondering at the female situation in India, and how sexist the society is described to be, and I kept asking myself how much this would still apply today.
What I liked: the general feeling that the stories were all set in the same society, although the six women and their stories were so far (socially speaking) from each other; the way stories were woven into the journey.
What I didn’t like: the sugary ending.
Language & writing: kudos to the translator! And I loved the feeling of different voices, and I loved the way Indian words were worked in so naturally to make one travel all the way to India.
Read this if: if you like female storytellers, if you like books exploring the female situation in India, if you like novels with several stories framed one into the other and yet independent
Counts as: I want more Challenge book #1 — South Asian Challenge book #1 — Global Reading Challenge – Asia