Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Book Review - Love, Peace and Happiness: What more can you want?

Title: Love, Peace and Happiness: What more can you want?
Author: Rituraj Verma.
Publisher: Leadstart India Pvt Ltd.
Format: E-book.
Pages: 223.
Genre: Fiction, Short Stories.
Blurb: Here.

The author had sent a copy of this book for me to review.
My Thoughts:
What I first noticed about the book was its name. It was a simple and straight forward name with no frills whatsoever. With the name of the book in my mind, initially I thought it was one of those 'self help' books(even though I knew it was a book of short stories) which seems to be the rage nowadays. For all I know, I am not a 'self help book' girl. However, I was in for a surprise when I started reading the book. A compact book, 9 short stories- 5 stories from a female point of view and 4 stories from a male standpoint.
The book is more or less an exploration, a journey into the lives of middle class urban couples, living their busy urban lives. Stories of people from various backgrounds, with different attitudes towards lives, their dreams, fears, goals are all explored in a lucid & condensed manner. Factors like career, money, intimacy ,love , are intelligently woven into the lives of these characters. The first story didn't quite interest me, however as I proceeded to the next 8 stories, I noticed how the author had explored and deciphered the human mind. He has intricately woven the most delicate issues of the urban life in these stories. The problems, dilemmas, matters regrading the heart no matter how rich or poor you are. Like the author says in the beginning of the book,we would love atleast one story, hate atleast one character and might know someone in our life who resembles atleast one of the characters in the book. I couldn't agree more.That is the reason why I would call this book, a realistic one. Realistic characters, flawed and still human,worthy of love. 
There were 2 main reasons why I enjoyed reading this book. One being the author had made this book unique by giving us (the readers) a chance to decide on the ending of each story! After each story few urls are provided. On clicking them you are directed to the alternate ending of the book. Like the author said, some readers may like the normal ending and some may prefer the alternate ending provided in his website. Second, being the fact that many characters are repeated in different stories.Thus, forming a book of short stories comprising of a group of individuals. Each story introduces us to a certain couple and you come across them in another story. And you are like,' Hey I know this chap/girl..he/she was there in the previous story', thus introducing an interesting twist to the stories.
Thanks to the recurrent appearance of some of the characters, you are presented with some of the character's life before or after 'their' story happens in the book. Each story focuses on what we really need when it is all said and done.We all need the 3 simple things in life- Love, Peace & Happiness. I felt some of the endings(also the alternate endings) were a little abrupt. Some of the stories didn't really strike a chord for me, on the other hand, I did enjoy some of them. As per the author, each reader would read this book differently.
Some of the stories I enjoyed reading were
1. The practitioner of austerity - The story of Aparna, a girl born in a poor family determined to succeed in life so as to put an end to the misery and poverty. A realistic approach towards the problems and dilemmas she faces. The sacrifices she makes for her big family and how she is forced to choose between the love of her life and her family. This is one of those stories where I liked the alternate ending than the the original ending.
2. The victim of many loves - Another female protagonist- Anamika. A suicide attempt victim/survivor. Her trait- she loves unconditionally. Her problem- she falls in love with the wrong men. Yet another convincing tale of an urban age successful single woman.
3.The persuit of perfection - I found this story a little disturbing. The story of a'happily married and settled' middle aged man, Harish Saxena who now questions his existence, about who he is, leading to ripples in his family life and his relationship with his kids.
A meticulous & eloquent book. Light read, you would ask? Yes it is pretty much a light read, however you would take some of the stories with you.Makes you reflect the life you are leading and the relationships you hold dear. 
My rating:

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