Sunday, October 21, 2007
This is a ‘feel-good’ story about finding one’s identity, one’s place in the world and true love. Charming and memorable and full of gentle lessons about life, it struck me as quite profound at times.
When the book begins the heroine, Nina, is in a bad way. Traumatized by the death of her best friend and stuck in a job that she hates in order to please her ambitious Indian parents, she also has to face the possibility of an arranged marriage. Nina is a lawyer who really wants to be a painter. Visiting a Guru who abuses her and losing her job after a big fight makes things much worse.
She agrees to go out with the future husband her parents have found and pretends that she has kept her job. An endearing character, it is easy to feel sorry for Nina!
But things begin to turn around when she goes to her favourite artist, Matisse’s exhibition at the Tate, and she meets a fellow artist, a friendly and genuine Australian girl, Gina. Gina’s friendship with Nina doesn’t begin well even after Gina suddenly tells Nina her favourite quote: “There are always flowers for those who want to see them,” by Matisse.
But they soon find that they have many things in common and Gina lends Nina her studio so that she can paint.
Nina gets into even more of a mess when she secretly paints, doesn’t tell her parents or fiancé about the loss of her job, and pretends that she is an agent for Foruki, her pseudonym! When she becomes attracted to a new man, Michael, she has even more choices to make!
This is largely an autobiographical novel which probably makes it even better. Preethi Nair had such a hard time selling her first book, Gypsy Marsala, to publishers that after nine rejections, she decided to self-publish. She decided to have an alias as well and this helped because she could pretend that her pseudonym was the woman that she wanted to be.
I enjoyed this book and loved the quotation so I will definitely be reading more of Preethi Nair’s novels! You can hear her story here: Preethi Nair