- Language: English
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction
- Pages: 234 pages
- Format: Paperback
- Author: Vinita Bakshi
- Publishing Date: 10th November 2016
- Publisher: Rupa Publication India
- ISBN-10: 8129142295
- ISBN-13: 978-8129142290
I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. 31 Miles is story of Mansa- a middle aged woman who is happily married with two kids. Born and brought up in a conservative Indian family, she lived a very cocooned life. Just after a customary meeting, she got married to Abhijit at a very tender age. After that she devoted her life to look after her family. But now after twenty years of marital bliss, she feels lonely and aimless. With two grown up kids and husband busy with his career, she feels no one needs her anymore.
So Mansa decides to take the reins of her life in her own hands and chooses to step out. She enrols herself in a culinary class and successfully makes a career out of her hobby. With a newfound energy and enthusiasm, she immerses herself in her work and new life. But soon a new person enters her life through the window of world wide web. She befriends a man named Rajan Chopra on facebook and quickly finds herself entangled in an extra marital affair with an unknown person. Now with everything slowly falling apart will she give up everything for her love or take a different turn?
Mansa as a protagonist is very believable. I think most of the middle aged women will identify with her. Not only she is a caring and sensitive person who always thinks of her family first but she is also smart and intelligent. She is definitely able to grab and hold readers attention throughout the book.
I really enjoyed the beginning. From the first page itself I was hooked to the story. Although I was little apprehensive about the extra marital affair, I was able to respect Mansa as a woman. Rather than plummeting downward towards melancholy and cynicism, she just took it all in her stride. Anybody else in her situation would have sunk to despair and hopelessness. But she had the guts to start afresh. It takes a lot of courage to face this world and to turn your passion into profession. So I admired this character a lot.
The crux of the story is the extra marital affair which is supposed to be torrid, passionate and intense. I felt all of these feelings were missing in her new relationship. She knew next to nothing about this man apart from the fact that he married twice, has a kid and likes poetry. She didn’t even see his picture. I can’t accept the fact that somebody can be so naive in this digital age and that too a woman like Mansa. A person doesn’t need to be a genius to exercise caution.
The whole time I was reading the book, I never found a particular reason which compelled Mansa to betray Abhijit. Had Abhijit been unfaithful to her or cared less about her, I would have understood her plight and sympathized with her. But in her own words, author mentioned that Abhijit’s progressive thinking, respect for women coupled with unmatched intelligence made him epitome of perfection in Mansa’s eyes. Also throughout the book we can clearly observe that he loved Mansa a lot. Even if he was not able say those much expected “three words”, everything in his behavior screamed how much he loved his wife. He supported her career, never stopped her from pursuing anything, never doubted her (even when she chatted with her lover lying right next to him).
I didn’t understand why suddenly Mansa was so dissatisfied with Abhijit and couldn’t even bear to spend time with her family? And this same person happily went back to Rajan again and again, even after his repetitive misbehavior. How can she consider Rajan her soul mate when the moment she wanted to meet him, he terminated all communication with her. He insulted her on every possible level and pushed her towards depression. Are these the qualities of a true soul mate?
The ending was not very clear to me. The past life regression took the story to a completely different zone. Sadly this part was not well connected to the main story. Maybe all the unanswered questions will be answered in the upcoming sequel.
As a debutante author, Vinita Bakshi’s command over language is laudable. However, certain sections of the story felt quite repetitive, specially Mansa’s chat conversations with Rajan. I loved Mansa as a protagonist. But I was disappointed in her. It was like quietly watching your friend make a stupid life decision. By the end of the story I just wanted to give her a good shake and say, “Stand up for yourself, girl.”
My Rating: 2.5/5