Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Book Review // Chronicle of a Love Foretold




Monu Tamang’s Chronicle of a Love Foretold published in December, 2015 is a young adult fiction based in Raichur, Karnataka, India.

It’s the story of the Bhutanese students in India, their initial struggle to blend in with the locals in the south and how they unite as one when necessary. The book is slim and an easy read but packed with themes of love, loss, betrayal, forgiveness and uncertainty of life. 

It definitely takes you back to your college days when life was all about experimenting and trying to fit in and discovering yourself in that process, making you a better person or worse for that matter. It makes you yearn for your younger days when you were experiencing love for the first time ever, in your life.

Kinga Lhendup is a young Physiotherapist at Paro hospital. At the outset, he leads a dreamy life; working at the hospital during the day, reading and writing at night or drinking whiskey. And jogging in the morning or tending to his beautiful flower garden. It’s a completely fulfilling life. Yet, deep inside, he is a broken man. Sleeping pills are the only antidote to his insomniac nights.

Monu takes us to the college days where we discover that a guy and a girl meets, likes each other and falls in love but…but there is a third person. Somebody who loves the girl and that’s when the matters get complex and also that’s when the charm unfolds.

Kinga Lhendup is on a scholarship to study Physiotherapy in a college in India. As a young Bhutanese, fresh out of high school, he has a whole life laid before him like a map to explore. Starting from experimenting to drink and smoke, flirting with girls and playing pranks on his lecturers, Kinga is out on an adventurous roller-coaster life. Until he meets Namsa Lhazin, the girl who sweeps him off his feet.

The book sends a strong social message of the difficulties faced by a child born out of wedlock and how that impacts the mindset of the child as he/she grows up. It also gives an insight into the life of a medical student. In that process, we also learn something about the medical terminologies which helps you understand how important your health is.  

Monu has emerged a contemporary writer and has definitely paved a way for other inspiring writers. He makes you feel ‘hey I can also write a book,’ which is so inspiring! If you have a story to tell, write it. It’s as simple as that.

It’s astounding that 30 copies of this book sold in two straight days soon after its publication at DSB Enterprise, a local bookstore in Thimphu. And word has it that he already ran out of his first printed copies. Such a huge feat in itself.   

While the story is light and can be completed in two sitting, there are certain disappointments. For one, it lacks character development. We never know how beautiful Namsa Lhazin is or how good looking Kinga Lhendup is? Beautiful and handsome as to how? The reader cannot imagine the eyes and the nose of the characters. Thus, giving a full stop to the reader’s imagination of the characters. I couldn’t bring myself to fall in love with the characters, no matter how hard I tried. 

When Namsa is first introduced, she is wearing a black shrug and a frock. What a combo! The writer definitely lacks sense of fashion. A shrug is a cropped, cardigan-like garment with short or long sleeves, worn over a vest or tank top or over a dress. Isolating shrug as a piece of cloth stops the reader from further imagination of Namsa. It doesn’t make you feel invested in the life of the characters, which is so critical in a story.

A light influence of Haruki Muarkami is distinct in the book. The love making scene when its pouring heavy outside is one that is replicated from Murakami’s Norwegain Wood, I reckon.
Gaurapa’s road to recovery is something which we can resonate from the film Munna Bhai MBBS. These are a few examples of an influence from the books and film which I felt had the author influenced, which of course is very natural and forgiving.

However, it saddens me that the story doesn’t live with you, long after finishing it and doesn't make you think about it for days on end. After finishing the book, it doesn’t make you hug it because it stops you from investing in the book emotionally.  

Nonetheless, this is a good start. Monu definitely left me craving for more of such stories. Stories which are distinct in Bhutanese and close to our hearts, stories which would make us hug the book at the end. We look forward to reading more of your stories. Way to go Monu!     

And yes, the design and cover layout is of international standard. Its just so convenient and perfect for a light travel read. 

P.S : I apologise for the honest and brutal review which is done in good faith of course as an ardent reader and a well wisher. I hope the author will take it positively and come better like a phoenix rising from the ash in his next project. 

3 comments:

  1. That was an honest review, yes quite brutal, coming from an ardent reader. Even I, who is an occasional reader, learnt a lot about the qualities and flaws of the book from your review. Thank you for putting it up on your blog. I am sure Monu will take it positively.
    One thing which looks definite is that your hunger and zeal for reading has made you even hungrier for quality books. You have been reading a lot of good books by internationally recognised writers and that tends you to pitch the Bhutanese writers against the standard of international writers. While it is natural on your part to do so, I personally feel it is little harsh on the Bhutanese writers who are trying to make their way up.
    Another thing which I don't agree with you is the fact that the writer looks like he has been influenced by other authors and movies. In some cases, you could be right. But such scenes as making love as it is raining heavily outside need not necessarily be a result of influence by Murakami. One's basic romantic sense can easily help us create such a scene. For example, I haven't read Norwegian Wood but I find it quite normal in a romantic story to come across such a scene.
    Yes, the story doesn't live with us for long. I think no Bhutanese writer has so far written a book that gives us so much to remember about. It might take quite some time. I am not trying to argue here by the way. Just substantiating the point you have made. The layout and cover design, like you pointed out, are excellent. I liked them too.
    Keep reviewing and posting. Your blog is an excellent source of reference for good books like I mentioned in a previous comment. More than anything, such honest reviews will help our authors a lot. :)

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  2. You guys! I have been reading mommy book ever since my little one was born and I tell you, this mommy brain is wrecked with baby poo, toddler tantrums, terrible 2's, immunisations, and baby food and blah blah blah.
    So, going through this interesting intellectual reviews and comments, makes me "impatient" for Monu's book to arrive to my doorstep and take a baby step to reading some novels.
    Going through both Passu Sir and now, Rekha's review, I feel like I can totally relate to this book with some matters. So, I can't wait and see what awaits for me in this book.

    Awesome review! High-Five Miss Rekha!

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  3. I am yet to flip the pages of it. Hehe.

    ReplyDelete

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