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Untamed Heart - What it evokes in me

‘Untamed Heart’ is an easy to read, well-paced novel. The 300 odd pages can be devoured quite quickly. As the name and the cover suggest, this book  is a woman’s quest for freedom.. But this ‘maiden’ novel by Mona Dash has many more layers to it. A few of those themes, as I saw them, are; one, how people can both unsuspectingly and conveniently get bound by social mores. Justify themselves to their comfort zones, while they miss out on the thrill of challenging them. This is applicable to everyone - not just an intrinsically talented, yet trapped India/Odia bahu of a 'contented' family - who chooses to take life on an auto-pilot.

Two, the path of the river - it has to mingle with the sea, it’s path to moksha. The droplet atop a mountain, will, despite all hurdles, meet its level in a far away sea. As for Mohini s - going by her early instincts in life - she had to explore, she had to excel, she had to be in the thick of things. You cannot have her bound within the four walls, with or without education  She is a  celebration of all those people - of different genders (including the third gender), caste/creed, minorities - who listen to their true calling and figure out a way to keep trying to reach their goals (some of which they maybe unaware themselves).

Three, the changing aspirations and the access of society per-se, post globalisation. How the Indian diaspora is all over the world. How, everyone can actually dream and get whatever they want - in any corner of the world.

Four, London. The love for London is unmistakable. Lot of care has been taken to seamlessly weave the magnificent city into the novel.

Five, narratives. Many short narratives (20 to 100 words) spring up in almost every page of the novel, as seamlessly as London in woven into the text. Readers get a rich dose of a vast cross section of perspectives - mainly social mores that author has observed keenly over the years. Most of them are a well-worded, short narration just stating a fact - past or present. Not a judgement; just a statement. About the type of knife the maid-servants use in Odia families, or the stereotypical female gym trainers (though I don't personally agree with the stereotype - my experience has been quite different), or the matter of fact way dinner is no big deal or is served early in some of small London hotels. Anecdotes about Mumbai and Delhi also find mention. There are many, many such interesting tid-bits that lace the book and give structure to the main plot. As the main plot moved along predictable lines, it did not require too many twists as the theme itself was a powerful statement, the side plots served as the garnishing.

Six, a couple of deep messages. One, the victim and the aggressor can change roles based on perspective and two, in relationships aspirations and space play a critical part. A relationship can get cramped if there is an aspiration mis-match and in such a case - at least one partner (and probably both) suffer.

Those were some of the key thoughts that floated in my mind while I was reading the book. Some of the other points that cropped up in my mind, were - who is the target audience? When one reads a Chetan Bhagat book - the storyline, the titles, the language, the length of the novel - all of them seem a part of a plan. A well thought out package to sell and rake in the moolah. Who is the target audience here - it is not about deep philosophy - though it does have a strong, topical message. Is it meant for the normal devourers of books or is it meant to entice new readers? Does it have a demographic profile in mind?

The other thought I had was that I would have like a third person non-partisan observer, giving commentaries - like maybe in a Dostoevsky novel. I suspected that would have brought out some of the messages more engagingly. This is more of a thought - not a conviction - I would give the author her prerogative to navigate the readers her way.

Overall, I loved reading the book. Excellent first novel by Mona Dash. I am sure you are cooking more of them already. Best Wishes.


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