Right up to the very end, I was loving this book, but the ending left me feeling a bit cold which really changed my impression of the whole book, dropping my overall rating from a 4 to a 3.
The book felt to me like Hyacinth Bouquet and Keeping up Appearances on steroids. I’ve never known someone so desperate to appear like he has more money than his neighbours than Mr Jha. To go to the point that you will openly insult your son and call him useless and his work rubbish just so that you look better to your neighbours makes you pretty sad to be honest.
Mr Jha and his wife have recently come into a lot of money, and Mr Jha has decided that they need to move from their family home surrounded by their friends, so to a nicer house on the other side of Delhi, surrounded by other wealthy people. Mrs Jha is not so certain, and you can tell as the book goes on that she would just much rather be back in her small apartment (despite its foibles) and have her friends near her. Money can’t fix loneliness.
Without giving away too many spoilers, one of the funniest things for me was when Mr Jha realised that his insane competition to look richer than his neighbour might have all been a waste of time. I mean, getting a sofa that was studded with crystals might have looked nice, but if you can’t sit on it without inflicting pain, what is the point?!
As well as Mr and Mrs Jha, the book splits perspective between their son Rupak who is at school in America, and Mrs Jha’s friend Mrs Ray. I loved that we could see the story from multiple sides, as it meant that you got a better feeling of how ridiculous it all was.
Unlike most books I’ve read with multiple perspectives which devote a chapter at a time to one character, this book seamlessly switched from one character to another, sometimes mid sentence. It was a bit jarring at first, but once I got used to it, it was great. It meant that you could see the exact same events from multiple perspectives without splitting the book up into tiny chapters.
As I mentioned at the start, I knocked a point off this book for the ending which was just a total let-down for me, I was expecting something more and it felt a bit like it fizzled out. I still can’t decide how exactly I would have preferred the book to end, but just with a bit more of ‘something’ than it actually did.
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