“To burn with desire and keep quiet about it is the greatest punishment we can bring on ourselves.” ~ Federico García Lorca
Why do romantic relationships fade away?
Do marriages promise happiness and security ?
Is love a magical spell that wears over time?
What must a couple do if they feel the marriage is not working?
Forbidden Desires attempts at finding answers to some of the above questions.
The book explores lives of four dynamic women who choose to make decisions that’ll catalyze irreversible changes in their life. Three of the protagonists are married and one determined to never get married. The book delves into the dynamics of extra-marital affairs while discussing the lives of the four protagonists individually in the start and then intersect to lead into a suggestive resolution of the mayhem in the climax.
The blurb on the back of the book reads:
‘Why do romantic relationships fade away? Does the magic slowly die? Or do lovers simply wake up one morning realizing they are done? Is it a trick that time plays on happy couples or is it something more profound, an evolution perhaps, of our feelings and our needs?’
Imagine there is a person you know nothing about, who is slowly destroying your marriage. Imagine there is a stranger who enters your life and makes you realize you are living a lie. Imagine there is a love so deep that you need to sacrifice everything you have to save it. Imagine you find out your partner is cheating on you. What will you do?
Naina, Ayesha, Kavita and Kaajal are four women who know nothing about each other and live cocooned in their individual worlds. Until one day, they’re forced to reckon with shocking truths they never imagined! Their desires haunt them, provoke them and make them fight to choose a new path in their lives. Will these women survive their stories of passion, betrayal and pain?
The title of the book and the cover are fitting to the theme of this romantic thriller and do full justice to the plot. I have read, Madhuri Banerjee’s work before, in her book, Advantage Love and had been impressed by its realistic progression and the nuggets of wonderful relationship advise she deftly offers in the book. I picked up Forbidden Desires, expecting something similar and quite liked the insightful points she raises from time to time in the voices of the protagonists.
The three married women who are tired of investing their time, love, care and endless efforts in pumping life into their monotonous married lives, finally find love outside their marriages. All of them are from the upper middle class section of Delhi. They come across as trying their best to give their dying marriages a fair chance to resuscitate for the sake of the archaic societal beliefs, the happy memories of the past and their children.
“Couples stay together for the sake of their children. Never for the sake of the love that brought them together. Too often even the memories of the love fade away. Or the demand for it to return brings with it a burden.”
Provoked by their desires, incensed by the nonchalance and insensitivity of their spouses, these women seek love outside their marriages. The protagonists let go of the boundaries set by the society for married women, when the men are seldom questioned about their commitment or devotion towards their spouses. The beauty of the plot is that, in their pursuit for happiness, Naina, Ayesha, Kavita and Kaajal are allowed the freedom to choose their hearts over their minds. They are set free to satiate their desires and are not bound by the shackles of morality, duty or love.
“More than mutual respect, marriages are about sharing your daily life, understanding each other’s dreams and supporting them.”
While I appreciate the meticulous plotting of multiple parallel stories where the core theme is adultery, I must admit, it gets rather slow and repetitive towards the middle of the book when infidelity is subtly but surely glamorized. I applaud the author’s efforts in conveying a powerful message to women of the modern era to learn to follow their heart, choose what they desire against what the society dictates to them to in a fearless fashion. But, doing so by plunging in the deep, dark waters of an illicit love affair doesn’t appeal to me even in a book on fiction genre.
“… why Indian society remained highly judgmental against women? If a woman desired sex she was a wanton tramp. If she had an affair with a married man, society would blam only her, not the man. If she was sexual, aggressive, spoke her mind, wore short skirts, showed hr cleavage or argued with men, she was called ‘loose’. And if she ever went to ask for her man’s love instead of the other way around, she would be slapped in the face. Unfair! “
No doubt the book aims at women emancipation but the solution offered, isn’t an inspiring one. I congratulate the author on starting the dialogue on bisexuality and touching upon same-sex relationships, BDSM and live-in relationships while addressing the oft discussed ego clashes between spouses. The powerful message that women need to stop leading a suffocating life, be more vocal about their desires and learn to break social barriers is a great takeaway from this book.
The book has true-to-life characters. The realistic portrayal is the strength of this page-turner that won’t let you put it down once it picks pace when the lives of the protagonists intersect. I particularly loved the character of Kulwinder Kaur though Pinky was a dampener for me. However, I found the ending disappointing and forced.
“Sometimes it’s hard to love your husband in spite of all his vices. Sometimes it’s hard to be happy with the life you’ve chosen. Sometimes it’s impossible to think of an alternative. And that’s when you need a little prayer to help you understand that things are going to be okay.”
In the quest of empowering the female leads and gifting the book a happy ending, the wrap up of this rather notty plot didn’t provide a few answers, especially in cases of Kaushik and Varun. The grammatical errors, though few but noticeable, warrant a careful editing of the book. The book does have the potential of being made into a Bollywood movie given thee fact that the author is a Bollywood screenplay writer.
The book makes for a breezy, romantic thriller that I feel would make a good travel companion for adult readers.
About the Book:
- Title – Forbidden Desires
- Author – Madhuri Banrjee
- Publisher – Rupa Publications
- Genre – Fiction
- Pages – 266
- Price – INR 295
- ISBN – 978-81-291-3730-2
About the Author: Madhuri Banerjee is an Indian bestselling author and writer. She is a blogger at CNN-IBN, a columnist with The Asian Age, an Ad film director, a screenplay writer for Bollywood films and a mother. Madhuri has won a National Award for her poignant and realistic documentary on the issues that women face, Between Dualities. Madhuri Banerjee is the bestselling author of five books including Advantage Love and Scandalous Housewives.
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