I am delighted to be taking part in a blog tour for acclaimed author Ravinder Randhawa’s new novel, A Wicked Old Woman, organised by the lovely Faye, a freelance PR and book blogger extraordinaire! To visit her blog A Daydreamer’s Thoughts, please click HERE.
What’s it all about?:
Drama. Masquerade. Mischief.
A sharply observed, witty and confident novel. Linguistically playful, entertaining and provoking.
In a bustling British city, Kulwant mischievously masquerades as a much older woman, using her walking stick like a Greek chorus, ‘…stick-leg-shuffle-leg-shuffle…’ encountering new adventures and getting bruised by the jagged edges of her life. There’s the glamorous rebel who rescues her after a carefully calculated fall; Caroline, her gregarious friend from school days, who watched over her dizzy romance with ‘Michael the Archangel’, and Rani/Rosalind, who’s just killed a man …
Vividly bringing to life a bit of the 60s, 70s and 80s.
What did I think?:
After reading the synopsis of this novel, I was immediately intrigued and when invited to take part in a blog tour for the author, Ravinder Randhawa, I knew it was a story I had to read. Fiction about India has always been a bit of a passion of mine, whether set in India or in another country, usually England in my experiences. It encompasses a wide range of characters, all of whom have very different outlooks on what it has meant to be someone of Indian culture living in Britain through three decades of our history.
Generally, we tend to see life and the lives of others through the eyes of Kulwant who in the present time, is often accompanied by her stick and somewhat of a prickly, closed disposition. Of course there are reasons why she is so guarded, as the story continues and she reflects on her past we learn about the break-down of her marriage, her strained relationship with some of her children and a friendship that has lasted throughout the years, with Caroline, a white British woman who has been Kuli’s staunchest supporter. Their relationship was probably my favourite in the novel, I loved that Caroline took Kuli under her wing so that she did not feel as much of an outsider at school and is a driving force in the present to make sure Kuli is happy and makes the most of her life.
The supporting characters of this cast also play fantastic roles in this novel. We have poetic “Michael the Archangel” who asked for Kuli’s hand in marriage (and was gently let down) to “Myopic Maya,” who has had her own share of heart break but really comes into her own by the end of the story and finally, Rani/Rosalind whose sad state of affairs really tugged at my emotions. I have to admit that at points I did feel a little confused about what was going on exactly and I think that’s probably because I picked up and put down the book quite a few times. This book would probably benefit by being read in one or two sittings and it’s length (235 pages in my edition) means that this is a possibility. Once I had read a few pages however and was used to the style of writing, I really enjoyed the flow and meaning behind the novel.
Being a white British woman myself, I probably can’t completely understand or relate to what the author was describing in the novel i.e. how to live in a country where the culture is different from what you are born into, but I believe she got the message across very well and there were some beautiful moments. Reading her words feels almost like poetry and she has a real flair for language – in fact, there are wonderful, emotive lines on almost every page:
“…progress won’t come by changing a brick here and there, the whole structure was suspect and should be challenged as a whole.”
As a means of furthering my own education about Indian culture, this book definitely did the job and as a novel generally, it’s a fantastic piece of work that I think most people will be able to identify with even if there are differences in race. I learned a lot and will be thinking about some of these characters for a while as a result of this story.
Would I recommend it?:
Star rating (out of 5):
Intrigued? Want to know more? Make sure you check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour!
RAVINDER RANDHAWA – A BIBLIOGRAPHY
Ravinder Randhawa is the acclaimed author of the novels Beauty and the Beast (YA), A Wicked Old Woman, The Tiger’s Smile and the short story collection Dynamite. She’s currently working on a trilogy: The Fire-Magician. Ravinder was a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Toynbee Hall, Queen Mary’s University, the University of London, and founded the Asian Women Writer’s Collective.
Ravinder was born in India, grew up in leafy Warwickshire, now lives in London and agrees with Samuel Johnson’s saying (though of course, in a gender non-specific way) ‘…if a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.’ Loves good coffee and really good thrillers.
Author Links Website: http://www.ravinderrandhawa.com/