Thursday, July 03, 2014

Book Review: 'The One You Cannot Have' By Preeti Shenoy

Source: www.goodreads.com

During the last few months, I have been reading quite a few Indian Authors with the sole intention of understanding where Indian writing stands today, esp. what the preferred Genre is for story telling. The more I read, the more I realized how light fiction has become the order of the day. Story lines that revolve around college, MBA, romance and the corporate are the staple. ‘The One You Cannot Have’ is once such book in this newly evolved world of Indian fiction writing.

The story begins with Aman returning to India after a two year stint in the UK. For two years he has stayed away, to get over the love of his life Shruti. The one with whom he spent the most beautiful four years of his life. The one who he had thought he would spend the rest of his life with. The one who broke away because her parents disapproved of him and her mother was suffering from breast cancer. But theirs was the perfect thing, despite spending two years away from India, his friends and Shruti, he hasn't been able to get over her. While Aman continues to live in his past, Shruti has problems of her own. She is now married to Rishabh, an alliance approved by her parents. She leads a happy life with him but yearns for what she had with Aman.

While the two hold on to their past, Anjali comes into Aman’s life and wants to take the place left vacant by Shruti. On the other hand, Rishabh discovers about Shruti’s past and begins to drift away.What happens to their relationships, which strings get snapped and which tie together is what Preeti Shenoy’s latest book is about. While the story line is not beyond the ordinary, Preeti does a good job of tightly coupling the plot together and holding on till the very end. What she also does well, is bring depth to the emotions that Aman and Shruti feel. She brings intensity into their relationship and shows why it was the most perfect, why they will always take that place in each others live, of being the one they cannot have. She also questions stereotypes esp. around societal pressure on starting families and the right age for getting married. She subtly brings about the Indian love for moral policing in the form of Anjali’s landlord and hypocrisy that exists in our society through Dipika.

The story line does not necessarily make it a gripping read, but it sure keeps you engaged while you devour down the pages. Being able to develop a firm story around a plot such that it keeps you engrossed when you leaf through is indeed an accomplishment to be appreciated. And Preeti achieves just that.

However, while I enjoyed this read, a few questions did come to mind. A great job is done in executing the perfect relationship between Aman and Shruti and the fact that neither has gotten over the other has been emphasized. On the other hand the relationship Aman shares with Anjali, is shown to be good but not as great as it had been with Shruti. The usages of words like “The more I talk about her, the more I realize how fond I am actually of her” don’t necessarily convince that Aman’s emotions are strong enough to give up on his perfect relationship esp. when it comes knocking at his door. Also, while on one hand, stereotypes and mindsets are questioned, when it comes to the climax, it seems to fall in line with those very  notions, leaving the reader wondering why, when Aman and Shruti both wanted to be together could they not be? Why, just because she is married, Shruti needs to go back to work things out with a husband who doesn't attempt to understand? Why is it necessary for people to always live with that “if only…” feeling for the rest of their lives.

Maybe this is what Preeti had in mind when she wrote ‘The One You Cannot Have’, to make her readers question  and hunt for those answers?… and if that’s the case, she sure has achieved what she set out to.


‘The One You Cannot Have’ might be one among the myriads of light fiction novels hitting the Indian market today, but it definitely rates high on that list. Purely for the execution skills Preeti brings to the table. Worth picking this book up for another of those Sunday breezy reads.

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34 comments:

  1. I have read a couple of Preeti's books and quite liked her style. This one looks interesting. Have added in my TBR list!

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    1. If you have read her before then I think you will like this one as well :)

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  2. Seeta, I find Preeti's storytelling very simple and sometimes way too obvious. Did read a couple of her books which were just about okay. This one seems to be in the similar mould.

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    1. I agree, I just found her style better than some others I have read off late. Its more of a relative comparison.. speaks volumes about the light fiction work that is found in abundance these days na :(

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  3. Such a well written review, Seeta. You have gone into all the aspects of it. I read the book sometime back and felt the same. Though the story is nothing new, Preeti sure has a way in the way she tells it.

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    1. Oh its good to meet someone who has read the book :) It was a predictable story, I wish she had gone against the norm with it. What I did like was the style of narration, it was much better than what most Indian Authors produce nowadays

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  4. Interesting review. We have a sudden rise of a few of these "new" Indian authors who dabble in breezy reads and light romances. I haven't read any of her books yet, but they seem to be narrated well if your feedback and what the general consensus seem to be. Might pick one up :)

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    1. Frankly I pick them up only to gauge the style and depth in writing style. Will this book leave a mark on me? -No. Has she wowed the world with it?- No For the scope of the story, has she done a decent job narrating it- Yes...:)

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  5. Haven't read this author. But your review is very well written, Seeta. I like your summary paragraph very much :)

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    1. Thanks Beloo :) It is just that, a breezy read.

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  6. Interesting read. Somehow I have not been able to motivate myself to pick up too many books by Indian authors yet - more so due to my genre preference. Maybe if some day I quit my job and take up writing as a full time profession, I will read all these Indian books out of professional interest.

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    1. Same here.Had I not quit my job and focused on writing, I doubt I would have picked up any of these light fictions.

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  7. nice review! will check this book out :)

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    1. Let me know how you find it to be :)

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  8. Romance is not my cup of reading tea - though I have a story featured in one such anthology :) I wish there were more genres explored in Indian writing other than romance, IIT/IIM and retelling myth.

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    1. Hahaha... I somehow cant imagine you reading this Genre either :P And Amen to that, I wish the same too...

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  9. Nice review, Seeta.
    The book's name is interesting & after reading your review, looks justified :)

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  10. Interesting review, Seeta. I've never read Preeti books but looking to read more of her stuffs, my favorite genre. Also, finally het to visit u here and heard a lot bout ur blog and writings.
    Cheerz

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    1. I found her to be relatively better than the other young Authors who write in this Genre in India... glad you dropped by Vishal :)

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  11. That was such a good review. I really liked the way you have portrayed your ruminations as you read the book.
    And yes, light reads seem to be the order of the day for all young modern day authors. But what I find disappointing is their abuse of the English language by infusing slang and swear words all over :(
    You have a nice blog here and write really well. I especially like your blog's name :)
    Keep writing!

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    1. I agree Aarthy, the language is a big put off, it makes me wonder about the quality of writing and reading in India today... thanks so much for stopping by, hope to see more of you in this blogging world :)

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  12. I tried to read her once...but couldn't digest. Although the review is good, I doubt if I will read it :)

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    1. I understand, if a Author puts us off once it is tough to reconcile :)

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  13. Nice review Seeta. Exactly the same questions had troubled me too. I had written a review on goodreads. I personally liked the way she narrated the story and had read it the day I received it from flipkart. As for me, I am a believer in second chances and would have liked it better if Shrut and Aman had got together again. :P

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    1. Oh wow, I am so glad I found someone who has read the book and echoes my thoughts.. I agree with you too, esp. given how much of emphasis she had put on their relationship... and the way she portrayed the story... she questioned stereotype as well, and in the end gave in to it.

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  14. I've read a couple of Preeti Shenoy . She do have a gripping writing style.After reading your review , I think I should go for this one too... :-)

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    1. Do let me know how you find it :)

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  15. Seeta, you made a bit sad as well as happy with this post. Sad because I was one of the first buyers of this book because I wanted an author-signed copy. But my copy arrived without a signature. I informed Preeti and she took the pain to get me a signed copy. Since I got a signed copy I gifted the other copy to a friend on her birthday. I was almost halfway through the book when someone actually stole my signed copy. :-( I have now bought a second copy (third book) which I'm yet to start reading. Sometime soon, but definitely. I haven't missed any of Preeti's work and I'm hundred percent sure that this one must also be a hit. I was at Dipika's house when Aman was trying to move out. Let me see how it goes on and what the story unfolds about Aman and Shruthi's life. Nicely reviewed by you. :-)

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    1. Oh that sounds like such a crazy thing to happen. glad you liked the review Rekha, let me know what you think of it.

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  16. I have read this book and I just loved it from the beginning till end.

    Here is my review.

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    1. Hopped over and read it Anmol. Thanks for stopping by :)

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