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!!!

  • December 2009
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