The Ugliest Cakes ..and a Book Review…

Margaret Shanti’s husband Ebenezer Paulraj is a pompous conniving selfish narcissistic man who attempts to destroy her self-confidence and reduces her to nothing more than his slave/cook. She decides to get back at him through COOKING!
Yes! you read right.
She feeds him delicious fat-filled food and makes him fat and sluggish and breaks him down. A teacher of chemistry, she sees life as a combination of acids, alkalines and gases.
Love” she says “ is a colourless, volatile liquid Love ignites and burns. Love leaves no residue — neither smoke nor ash. Love is a poison masquerading as the spirit of wine.
Although I first read Anita Nair’s Ladies Coupe many years ago( 2005 I think) it was only Margaret’s story that I continued to remember.
But I re-discovered the novel again when I read it again recently .I was amazed at the authors ability to weave an interesting story at the same time throw up some poignant questions on gender, family , societal hypocrisy and life in South-India of the 80’s.
Can a woman stay single and be happy at the same time?Is a woman’s life worthless unless she is a mother and a wife?
Unmarried Akhila,the 45 years old protagonist of the novel struggles with these questions.
During her train journey to Kanyakumari , aboard the Ladies Coupe of the train she meets 5 other women , each with problems agonies and issues of their own. Akhila’s life-story is thus contrasted with theirs.
Akhila has spent most of her life looking after her family, sacrificing her dreams for theirs. Even while she does finally fall in love-with someone many years younger to her, she has to sacrifice this too.
The other woman too share their life-stories , their anguishes and how they deal with what life and society throws at them. It seemed to me like these 5 women represented the 5 stages of womanhood and even belonged to widely different social classes.Jaanki, Sheela, Margaret, Prabhadevi, Mary –all of them have a story to narrate…some realistic, some too fantastical and far-fetched but nevertheless all interesting to read.
I loved how Anita, drew up the characters. The author managed to remain detached throughout the whole novel; never preaching but just narrating the facts as they are. Her portrayal of the Indian Woman of the 80’s- closeted by society yet pushing the walls to as Akhila put it “ find a place that was her own. To do as she pleased. To live as she chose with neither restraint nor fear of censure” was very realistic and inspiring.
The men however left a LOT to be desired. Every one of them was spineless and insensitive.
Where were the ‘good’ men ??
Still Ladies Coupe was an interesting,inspiring read.

Before I leave you here are some pics a friend send me….(don’t I club the unlikeliest things?)
Aren’t they simply the ugliest cakes you have ever seen…I wonder who ate them!!!

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17 Comments

  1. Hi,
    I read the “Ladies Coupe” sometime back and i was intrigued by the different characters portrayed and their lives. I never did see any reviews or mentions of the book until i chanced upon it here, and i must say you have written up a very nice review here :)
    and yes, those are the ugliest cakes i’ve ever seen. i wonder if they were a halloween special or something
    cheers!

    Reply
  2. Good grief, where on earth did they get those pics!
    I just realized after reading your review how bad the men were in the book. True! I didn’t realize it till i started going through all the characters – hmmm..maybe a jaded author?

    Reply
  3. That was my first Anita Nair book. I even met her at a book reading afterwards where she discussed the book. I remember these lines you quoted, as well as some stuff about eating eggs.

    Those cakes … ugh!

    Reply
  4. I just finished reading LC and have to say my head is spinning. It will take me a couple of hours to gather my thought and post the review but like you I too was impressed with her objectivity. I like a book that doesn’t preach and lets you draw your own conclusions.
    Don’t know if I should LOL or ugh on the cakes. :)

    Reply
  5. My Goodness…who would eat those…Thanks for sharing your thoughts about Ladies coupe :-)

    Reply
  6. Oh I forgot…So sorry…

    Merry Christmas ! and hope you have a wonderful new years…!

    Reply
  7. Shocked at first..but now i’m intrigued…must look out for this book at Barnes and noble…Nice Post !

    Reply
  8. We do have both cooking and reading in common! This one sounds like a very interesting read. I’ll look for the book locally. Anita Nair is not an author I have explored yet but she is in my list now. The ugliest cakes are well… scary and ugly but would be a perfect gift for Halloween, I guess :)

    Reply
  9. Liked the review of the book, Want to get hold of it next time I go book shopping and for the cakes ..Man …It sure is ugly ……

    Reply
  10. will read this soon once i hve time,,,,thnks,..

    Reply
  11. I was never a huge fan of anita nair, until i read Ladies coupe and liked it a lot.. i dont remember why i liked it as i read it a long time back,but i do remember liking the book.. and lol at the cake horrors.. u shud check cakewrecks.com.. they have every conceivable form of cake-destruction !! ..

    Reply
  12. Lovely review, Shebs. As I said, I liked the book but I hate the undercurrent Anita Nair has built in – this whole, can a woman live without a man!!! And I agree, where are the good men :)

    Happy Holidays!

    Reply
  13. OMG !! Are these the real ones .. who can have these ???

    Reply
  14. I have not read the book but now I need to pick up a copy of it. I am due for some reading and will add it to my list.

    And btw, the cake pics are so gross.. eww! I am a happy cakes kind of person

    Reply
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