31 Miles - Book Review

From social entrepreneurship to being the Chief Architect of a literature and cultural festival; from being the director of the National Institute of Jewellery in Delhi to penning down a novel, Vinita Bakshi has quite a multi-faceted personality.

31 Miles is her debut foray into writing. Does it work? Let’s check it out.

The blurb goes like this –

Mansa has the perfect family life—a husband, two daughters and a big house. But she feels that something is missing. After shifting to a major city, she decides to take the reins of her life in her own hands, she decides to step out and seek a career.

While enjoying the new-found freedom and confidence, she completely immerses herself in her work and her new life. Till one fateful day when she finds herself embroiled in a passionate affair—with an online lover. And then everything falls apart!

31 Miles is the story of a woman who rediscovers herself after marriage, and works towards self-emancipation. Will she give it all up for the elusive mirage created by the stranger? What turn will her life take next?

Vinita’s portrayal of Mansa’s world is so life-like. She’s had an arranged marriage and is happily settled as a homemaker with two daughters. Or is she really ‘happily settled’? Though her husband is really supportive and caring, she feels that there’s something missing in her life. We hear about so many Mansa’s around the world day in and day out, don’t we?

And then something changes in her life. She meets a stranger online who slowly but surely impresses her so much so that he starts sharing poems and couplets with her. Even before she realizes, an online romance starts brewing between the two. The rest of the novel deals with how equations get affected amongst her family and the stranger she befriends online.

The parts about Mansa working towards self-emancipation remind me of the Bollywood movies – Queen and English Vinglish in more ways than one.

Vinita’s writing style is simple and the language is easy to comprehend. She portrays the emotions of all the characters quite beautifully particularly the trials and tribulations Mansa goes through.

The plot about the online romance is quite contemporary considering in today’s day and age it’s important that we all understand the pros and cons of having online friends and an online identity. These days online relationships of any kind have the power to play havoc on our face to face relationships.

On the flip side, the book could surely have been edited better as there are parts which seem stretched. Moreover, the narration does seem a tad slow in places as well.

But then, all said and done, this is a fairly good debut attempt.

Rating – 3.5/5