Saturday, May 26, 2012

Book Review: Tell a Thousand Lies

Rasana Atreya’s Tell a Thousand Lies is, at least to this Westernized reader, a riff on the Cinderella story. This very promising debut novel is an enjoyable read. Atreya’s dialogue is believable, and the settings, all in India, are well presented.

The heroine, an unlovely (in her own opinion) Indian girl from a poor family living in a small village, suddenly finds herself promoted to regional goddess, thanks to an unscrupulous politician. The prince, who happens to be the grandson of the same politician, whisks her away from the village in hopes of creating a “happily ever after” for the two of them. What follows is a soap-opera-like plot with twists and turns galore – perhaps a few too many for the writer to keep up with. For instance, a character is clearly called out as “barren” a third of the way through the novel, yet her childlessness is later blamed on the men she married (one replaces her with another woman whom he still cannot impregnate and the other refuses to sleep with her). Despite this, I found the overall effect of the novel to be charming.

Though I spotted a few typos, they weren’t numerous. As an Indian writer, Atreya uses British spelling, which can throw some readers who aren’t used to novels written by non-Americans.  

I look forward with great interest to this novelist’s next effort.

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  1. Thank you for posting a review of my book!

    May I issue a slight clarification which might not be necessarily obvious to the non-Indian reader? In the lower middle-class segment of India's society, the woman ends up being blamed for the couple's childlessness, no matter who is to blame (medical tests are rarely done). My use of the word 'barren' in relation to this character was intended to convey irony.


    1. Rasana, thank you so much for the clarification. I'm afraid the irony was completely lost on me in this case. I'll happily make an addendum to the review on Amazon.


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