Friday, July 26, 2013

Book Review: Becoming Mrs Kumar by Heather Saville Gupta

Title: Becoming Mrs Kumar
Author: Heather Saville Gupta
Publisher: Random House India
Pages: 352
Price: Rs 350
Genre: Fiction / Chicklit / Romance
Rating: 7/10
Format: Paperback

Initially, I was a little wary about picking up this book because I thought it would be yet another narrative by a European traveler talking about filth, poverty and may be enlightenment. But this book does not dwell too much into the predictable, and what sets the book apart is that it is less cynical and more positive.

Julia Robinson is in her early 30s. She has worked her way to a comfortable position in a top advertising agency in London. But now she is finding herself in a mid-life crisis. She is ready to be in a serious relationship but she hasn’t found anyone yet. Life has become mundane and boring, and she feels it is time to shake things up. When her boss offers her a job in Mumbai with a raise and other perks, she feels as if it is some sort of destiny. Her best friends are bewildered, her family is skeptical, but Julia feels that she needs the adventure that India will provide.

This book is unlike other books by Western travelers. Julia is looking for love and not enlightenment. She is not a backpack traveler, collecting experiences; she is an expat, who lives in a posh locality of Mumbai, in a city where space is a luxury for many. Her social circle comprises of other expats, work colleagues and people she meets at upmarket pubs/bars. Her life in one of the most chaotic and filthy cities, Mumbai, is largely cocooned. Julia finds India extremely hot and disorganized, yet friendly and exciting. She describes her fist encounter with Mumbai as (in her own words) "the heady experience of having all of my five senses simultaneously walloped by a massive sensory overload" and yet she loves "its energy, its raw vitality, its chaotic madness". After a couple of bad experiences, she finally meets Mr Right (Mr Kumar) but only when she has already decided to leave India for good. For her, becoming Mrs Kumar does not come without drama. What eventually ensues is a big fat Indian wedding.

Characterization is not the strong point of this book. We don’t even get to know Mr Kumar that well. However, it is refreshing to see a foreigner appreciate what India has to offer, and weigh pros and cons vis-à-vis her own country (which is expected when the differences are many and stark). Julia's fondness for India was surprising considering it is a different thing to appreciate a place on vacation and a different thing to like it enough to adopt it. But obviously she is in love with the country. I also felt that the whole romance is a little hurried. Marrying in such a haste looks romantic but impractical.

‘Becoming Mrs Kumar’ obviously derives a lot from the author’s real experiences. Read the author talk about her book and her inspirations here. Read another author interview here to know more about the book. 

This book was an average read for me. Some parts were interesting but some were really slow and a few times repetitive. But having said that, the book has much to offer; it is a semi-travelogue and chicklit (the single, successful woman unlucky in love kind) rolled into one. If you like reading the outsider's view of our beloved country; what they find funny, baffling or endearing, then read on. 

Review Book courtesy: Random House India
Image source: Random House India


  1. Replies
    1. Tell me what stops you so that I can give a more specific answer. Ya iss paar ya uss paar :-)

  2. Replies
    1. Oh wow! What a coincidence. I look forward to your review to see how similar are our perspectives about this book.