The Madras Affair by Sundari Venkatraman, best-selling author, is a romance novel with a moving storyline, fine characterizations and skilful writing that culminate in a must-read book!
Published by Readomania (First edition 2015)
The Madras Affair – Book Blurb
Sangita Sinclair was not always this successful & passionate lady, heading the NGO “Penn Urimai” for downtrodden, abused and homeless women….
When Sangita catches the eye of Gautam Sinclair she is a simple, homely girl; utterly unaware of her charms & capabilities. She has the devil’s own time in overcoming her inhibitions, hesitation, and her family’s orthodox and outdated rules before recognising her love for Gautam.
Will Gautam be able to solve Sangita’s dilemma or will she be forever trapped in her past?
It would be easy to describe The Madras Affair as a romantic story between Sangita and Gautam, but that won’t do it justice. The book is a tapestry of emotions, a variety of relationships, feelings all interwoven into situations and experiences to form a solid story of the best kind – one with a happy ending. Hey, I love happy endings!
The book begins in the present day, with a happy Sangita, whose journey to happiness has been fraught with difficulty, abuse and disillusionment.
Sangita comes from an orthodox family with ridiculously archaic views – living in the 20th century but behaving as though they were in the stone age. Married at 19 and widowed at 20 with an infant, after a miserable marriage when unexpected relief comes to her via the accidental death of her abusive husband. Her parents are quite annoying, believing that widows ought not to remarry, and that no matter how abusive a relationship, it is the woman’s duty to put up with any kind of violence and violation of her body and spirit. Their sole focus and fear is “what will the neighbors think” and they live their lives on those terms.
When she is widowed, a timely intervention by sensible people rescues Sangita from being victimized by rituals (her head being shaved and the rule that she must wear only white) after which she gets a job and settles down to a sad life at her parents’ house.
Five years pass, and her life is transformed when Gautam Sinclair, an Indian-American literally walks into her life. The attraction between them is instant and while Sangita is wary of acknowledging her feelings, Gautam isn’t. Sangita is convinced that she does not deserve to be happy. And thus begins a rather turbulent romance where Gautam finds it hard to understand why Sangita needs the approval of others to live her life.
Will Gautam win her over? Will Sangita have the courage to overcome her inhibitions? Will she ever get over the trauma that was her first marriage?
My book review of The Madras Affair
First, please accept a huge warm hug for a reveiw copy of this lovely book that I finished in one sitting. What? I couldn’t put it down until I did.
I’ve read “The runaway bridegroom“, and looked forward to reading The Madras Affair with great anticipation. I am delighted to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. To say that you have the gift of weaving a story skilfully is stating the obvious.
What intrigued me about The Madras Affair was your insightful understanding of exactly how orthodox South Indian families work, to the minutest detail. I would know – I come from one. Another thing I admired was the way you presented various timelines in the book, dextrously navigating between past and present, so as to give the story a smooth and uninterrupted flow. Not a single hiccup, no pause for the reader.
I’d be hard put to pick my favorite things about The Madras Affair, but let me try:
- Fine characterizations. I loved how each character’s role was presented and grew with the story.
- Relationships were very well described and played out.
- Of course I fell in love with the Gautam’s grandparents, both for their part in Sangita’s “deliverance” as well as their relationship with Gautam, and their general attitude towards life.
- The affection between Sangita and her sister-in-law was especially heartwarming; I had total deja vu as I read about their making dinner together after Sangita returned from work.
- Rithika’s role was sweet and I liked how she came across as a truly supportive friend.
- I particularly liked the fact that Sangita, in spite of her experiences, had spunk and wasn’t docile. Her quiet strength filtered through the book very well.
- I also enjoyed the interaction between Gautam and Sangita. Very nicely spiced up and subtly spiked with humor.
- I felt nostalgic reading about some of my favorite spots in Chennai – especially Rangoli restaurant in Pondy Bazar.
So maybe some information was a bit repetitive, but I thought it fit in quite well with the pace of the story and accented it.
I do have to confess, Sundari, that Sangita’s background hit a rather raw nerve. Read this: A cup of Peace – and you’ll know what I mean. When the charming 5 year old Sandeep asked his Mom for a Dad, it took me right back to that time in my life. But that’s a story for another day, if ever. I am not ashamed to say I cried each time Sangita reminisced about her unhappy marriage.
It is saddening to know that families like Sangita’s are very much real. It makes my blood boil that in spite of being aware that their daughter is in an abusive relationship, parents will continue to hope that “everything will be alright if you are patient” – that things will somehow work out. My Mother went through that.
I am full of respect for you for tackling these sensitive topics in the book.
But Sundari, I quite liked how you did not paint Sangita’s parents as outright villains; rather, you showed them up as weak victims of an unfair and stupid belief system. Sigh. I may as well have been reading about factions of my family.
Your descriptions at various points in the story were just right, without being an overdose.
All in all, an absolutely wonderful book, just perfect for a relaxed afternoon with a strong tumbler (or two) of filter kaapi.
In closing, I must say that The Madras Affair is begging to be made into a superhit movie. I can just visualize it!
Thanks again – and looking forward to your next book!
About Sundari Venkatraman, author, The Madras Affair
Growing up on a heavy dose of fairy tales and comic books, Sundari fell in love with the ‘lived happily ever after’ syndrome. It was always about good triumphing over evil and a happy end.
Soon, into her teens, Sundari graduated to Mills & Boon romances. And that got her thinking – how about such breezy romances in Indian settings? Her imagination took flight and she always lived in a rosy cocoon of romance over the years.
Then came the writing – a true bolt out of the blue! Sundari had just quit her job as a school admin and was taking a break. She was saturated with reading books. That’s when she returned home one evening after her walk, took some sheets of paper and began writing. It was like watching a movie that was running in her head – all those years of visualising a perfect Indian romance had to be put into words. The dormant romantic storyteller in her finally found its calling and The Malhotra Bride was born. While she felt disheartened when publishing didn’t happen, it was her husband who encouraged her to keep writing.
In the meanwhile, she landed a job as copy editor with Mumbai Mirror. After working there for two years, she moved to the Network 18 Group and worked with two of their websites over the next six years, as content editor.
Despite her work schedule, she continued writing novels and short stories and had them published in her blogs. She also started blogging voraciously, writing on many different topics – travel, book reviews, film reviews, restaurant reviews, spirituality, alternative health and more.
Her first eBook Double Jeopardy – a romance novella – was published by Indireads and has been very well received by readers of romance.
In 2014, Sundari published The Malhotra Bride (2nd Edition); Meghna; The Runaway Bridegroom; Flaming Sun Collection 1: Happily Ever Afters From India (Box Set) and Matches Made In Heaven (a collection of romantic short stories) in form of ebooks.
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