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Book Review: A Hundred Little Flames by Preeti Shenoy

A Hundred Little Flames by Preeti Shenoy is a modern tale about generation gap, especially, today, how a relationship between a son and a father grows up to a point of no return.


As the story opens up, readers can see that Ayan, a young man in his mid-twenties, is all about a forced soul and trying to be a fit in the midst of gritty professionals in Pune. He does not love his job because he can never be as ambitious as his father. It was his father who had put him through Mechanical Engineering and then MBA, and even into his first job. Well, things go sour all the more between his father and him when he's unintentionally spotted with escorts during a company party. The pictures of that party goes viral and he is forced to put his papers down.

Dejected and of course afraid of his father’s tirade, he is transported to a small village in Kerala to his grouchy (around seventy-year-old) grandfather in an ancestral property named as - Thekko Madom.
Ayan feels pity to see his grandfather living a lonely life, on the other hand mesmerizes to see his diaries of his early days like youth and all. Gradually, Ayan being too sophisticated by the urban grooming comes to term with life when he begins gelling with the old man. As the diaries begin unfolding, more and more narration about the father-son relationship resurfaces and of course also about love and other rite of passages obligatory in life. In a nutshell, the story shuttles between today and yesterday.

Through the diaries Ayan comes to know about the real villainous nature of his father, Jairaj. The kind of treatment his grandfather received from Jairaj in fact actuates Ayan to hate his father. His father is shown quite greedy and mean in the guise of being ambitious. Jairaj gets his comeuppance when he finds that in the will he is not included, rather it goes to Ayan and others. Other than Gopal Shankar, Rohini too is a very touching character in the novel. When the old man, Gopal Shankar passes away she says that, “When dear ones pass away, we love them more and remember them in our heart like a hundred little flames".

Prior to this novel, Preeti was widely known as a writer of romance novels. However, this time she has come up with deeper voice to touch the souls of Indian generations. Probably, she wants to relay the message about the importance of father-son relationship, which gradually deteriorates with passage of time, as such is the rite of passage of life. The story builds up gradually, and the writing style is fairly good, understandable to all.

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