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.