Book Review: Thirteen Kinds of Love by Soumya Bhattacharya

The Author: A journalist and an author, Soumya Bhattacharya is currently the editor of Hindustan Times, Mumbai. You can read more about him and his books here.

The Book: Let me confess, I picked up this book because of the name. No, no, I’m not particularly fond of books that belong to the romance niche, but something about the name caught my eye and mind. Thirteen kinds….of love? Hmmm….are there so many kinds of love? Must be explored! I was expecting the book to be fast paced and to some extent it was, but not totally. As I started reading, I quickly realized that I was wrong about the book, in the sense that it’s not frivolous. It goes deeper. The setting of all the ‘kinds of love’ is in one apartment, the Imperial Heights. All of us who live in an apartment, whether upscale or otherwise can relate to many of the stories; in fact it could even be our story. Yes! It’s that realistic! The author has indeed done some intense research on people inhabiting a modern day gated community– the attraction, heartbreak, gossip, bitching, maids and drivers working in these spaces–everything! Rakesh, Shailesh, Malini, Manish, Arnab, Shankar, Priyanka….are you and me and our stories that happen day in and day out. I’m not going to go into the details of their stories, that’s for you to read and relate to.

So how is this book different from other books? A story doesn’t end in chapter one. It’s incomplete end is picked up in another chapter, but you will not know which one until you continue reading! And just when you reach the end of a chapter wondering what the climax would be, it simply ends and you’re disappointed because the end is left to your thinking!!! This is what I felt at the end of chapter 1. But my unhappiness was short-lived because the author did pick up the loose ends and brought it to a conclusion elsewhere. I found this very interesting and a unique way to approach a story.

What’s best is, all the chapters are neatly stitched together in the final one where all the families in the apartment get together for a new year party in one of the flats. And then there’s a happy ending where everyone has come around, made amends, changed and finally ring in the new year together. This is the last book I read for the year and I was happy that the last words of the book were, ‘Happy New Year.’ Sheer coincidence, I must say!!

If I must list out the drawbacks, then I would say it’s not as fast paced as I would’ve wanted it to be. Moreover, as I already mentioned that suspense is built and retained at the end of each chapter only to be concluded in another, later chapter. You need patience. Don’t form your opinions about any character because you will understand them better only as the chapters progress. Otherwise, it’s a wonderful book. Add it to your list of books to be read in the coming year and enjoy the intriguing stories of the dwellers of Imperial Heights!

This review is written as part of #blogchatterbookreview program.

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