Blurb: Set in a middle-class housing colony, this is the story of stay-at-home mum Monalisa, who cannot clean the kitchen counter enough times, Meera, who is bullied constantly by her traditional mother-in-law, college-going Abeer, who isn’t sure how to impress the glamorous Mandy, academic Aparajita, who has no takers on the marriage mart, philosopher Ananda, whom no one takes seriously and Treeza, a former school secretary now sunk in gloom. Into their midst arrives Oxford-returned Sandhya – half hippie, half saadhvi, full spiritual guru. Under her aegis is formed The Weight Loss Club, throwing the lives of our heroes and heroines into utter and delightful disarray. But while chemistry brews and equations change, one question remains who is Brahmacharini Sandhya and why on earth has she moved into Nancy Housing Cooperative?
About the author: Devapriya Roy has degrees in English literature and performance studies from Presidency College, Calcutta and Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, where she is pursuing a PhD on the Natyashastra (at least, that is what she says when asked what she does). Once upon a time, she was the Keo Karpin girl. Her first novel, The Vague Woman’s Handbook, was published in 2011. She is currently working on The Heat and Dust Project, the story of a quirky journey through India on an extreme budget, along with her husband, Saurav Jha.
Review: Devapriya Roy’s second novel, The Weight Loss Club like her debut novel The Vague Woman’s Handbook (of which I have read only the reviews and not the book yet) has impressed me a lot. It is a story of residents of Nancy Housing Cooperative. The title of the book is just to confuse the readers; it has nothing to do with actually losing your body weight but all about humanity that clubbed all the people together with the motto of “weight loss”, which is to find some comfort from the annoyances of the daily life. From Nandy to Nancy, from Mandakini to Mandy, the transitions of the characters in the housing complex are written in a simple format but are related with each other so well and form an integral combination. The story is set perfectly in Nancy Housing Cooperative. The 7 main characters of this story are
- Monalisa Das, a mom who is over obsessed with the education and scores of her sons.
- Meera Sahai, bullied by her Mother-in-law and a victim of Postpartum Depression.
- Aparajita Mukherjee: A PhD Student who opposes marriage and her mother searches for a perfect match for her.
- Abeer Mukherjee: Brother of Apu, a college student and a secret admirer of Mandakini Mandal.
- Treeza Mathew: Once a school secretary, now doomed in solitude.
- Ananda Bose: A secret admirer and helper.
- Sandhya: the therapeutic guru of all.
As the story is based in Kolkata the author has not left any loop to include detailing the city, the Bengali cuisine, Durga Puja, the over casted clouds, Garia Haat, Universities, Romances, Bangla band and also actress Paoli Dam. There are other characters and their stories but not very interesting and I had to skip reading about them. I liked the female bonding which the author wrote very well and I could imagine myself to be a part of Nancy Housing Cooperative and all these women to be my neighbours. I enjoyed reading the book though it was boring in many parts. Narration was done well and definitely Devapriya Roy can be now counted as one of the good female Indian writers. I liked the characterization and description of the Kolkata.
I write a lot, which keeps me off the streets and out of trouble. There is always something to write about, always a new story to craft. Not writing, for me, is like trying to hold back a sneeze. Learning to write was the most powerful influence in my life. I can still remember the awe I felt when I realized I could put real words onto paper and tell out a story. From that first ‘a-ha’ moment I knew I wanted to write.
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