Being part of the Armed forces fraternity myself, I have heard about Tanushree Podder’s previous book- ‘Boots, Belts, Berets’ but never got an opportunity to read it(my bad!). So, I was very excited to read ‘Solo in Singapore’ by the same writer, and here is my review of the book which I thoroughly enjoyed reading.
Life is Fair
‘Colourful, peppy and adventurous’ – are the adjectives to describe the book cover of ‘Solo in Singapore’. The book title is apt to the story inside, and the blurb below more or less sums up and gives a clue about what to expect from the book.
“Quirky, overweight, and emotionally insecure Munmun Menon, a kid born of a Bohemian Bengali mother and a number-crunching Malayali father, has been dreaming of true love forever. With an expired shelf life (she is thirty!), a no-go job as a correspondent, and an unfaithful lover, she decides to make a clean break. She buys a one-way ticket to Singapore, the city where her long lost father lives, and arrives carrying a heart full of hurt and a host of dreams. Solo in Singapore is a rip-roaring, side-splitting account of a young girl’s experience in an alien land and her efforts at keeping herself buoyed in choppy waters.”
The story is a Bildungsroman narrated by the protagonist herself that deals with the psychological and moral growth of Munmun who is in her 30s. Having tasted bitter failures in all aspects of her life-professional, personal, and love in India, Munmun packs her bags and is off to Singapore for a month to indulge and rejuvenate herself by meeting new people and exploring a new place. What starts as a month trip, transforms into a stay of over a year subsequently and this stay helps Munmun in conquering her fears and overcoming the grey areas. In this endeavor, Munmun is supported by her Mother, Aliston, Prasad, Ayan, and others. The story satisfies all the yardsticks of a coming-of-age novel.
The characterization of Munmun is rounded and though she initially loses faith in ‘Love and Marriage’, she plays cupid to an old couple and through this event, her belief in love is reaffirmed. Thus, we can say that she rediscovers love and also herself. I particularly adored the character of Keya Sen who brings in vibrancy to the story. Every character is impressive and leaves their mark.
The pace of the story is cleverly set according to the mood and happenings of the protagonist and the other characters. The initial chapters in the story are more of a travelogue indicating the ‘not so happening’ life of Munmun. The chapter in which Keya Sen is introduced adds life to the story as she is a vibrant character. The last chapters are indicative of the sweeping change in the protagonist owing to her love life.
Tanushree gives a glimpse into the culture, cuisine, traditions, language, social life, and vibrancy of Singapore. The influence of China on the city cannot be overlooked and plays a major role in the story. The readers are treated with a ‘Slice of Singapore’ through the travelogue of Munmun.
However, the story became so very monotonous and predictable in the middle chapters and lacked substance, thus disappointing me. Still, the writer should be credited for making this simple love story- witty and humorous with her language and characters. Also, she makes sure to drive home the point that ‘Ups and downs’ are part of life and that Life is fair- in the end, after all!
Do grab a copy of this ”coming-of-age’ novel, if you are looking for a breezy romance with ample amounts of humour and sentiments which makes a breezy read as well! I am sure you are going to enjoy reading ‘Solo in Singapore’ 🙂
I give this book a rating of 3.5 / 5!
- Author : Tanushree Podder
- Genre : Contemporary Fiction-Bildungsroman
- Publisher : Harper Collins India
- Version : Paperback
- Language : English