Rafflesia is a rare flower found in the jungles of Indonesia which blooms only for 5 days in a year. It is the largest and heaviest flower known. It is distinguished by its meaty smell and absence of leaves, stems or roots. It survives by absorbing nutrients through the threads found in the flower.
Gautam Choudhary’s debut novel, Rafflesia- The Banished Princess, is a story of Appu who would rather live in the fairy tale than in the real world. There is nothing extra-ordinary about Appu. Born to middle-class parents, Appu spends an average life in a small-town in the north-east growing up on whatever meager means his parents could afford. Inherently timid and complacent, Appu spends most of his time immersed in his own world. His finds recluse is his fairy tale- Rafflesia- The banished princess. The fairy tales provides him solace and hope of a happy ending. When Appu meets Rahul, he finds in him a brother and a trusted friend for life. Appu would have lived his life unceremoniously in that small town of Arunachal Pradesh but life wanted him to have a taste of it.
After a marriage that ended almost immediately and painfully, Appu finds it difficult to face life. Sujata, the sister-in-law in relation, happily and thankfully plays the mother, sister and a friend to a lonely Appu in a foreign land. And while Misha temporarily fills the gap of a friend-cum-sister, it is Rahul who remains his trusted companion throughout.
There are a lot of characters. Aabir and Trina, Vikram, Rahul, Sujata, Misha and many more; each playing a significant role in Appu’s life at some point of time and then slowly fading off from the limelight. The fairy tale of the Banished Princess, however, always stays with him assuring him of a happier life tomorrow.
There is no particular story in the book with a beginning or an ending. It is almost as if somebody got Appu’s personal diary published. There are no unpredictable ups and downs to jerk you from your seat. There are no thrill moments. But there is something deeper, something soothing about the story. It is about finding joys in smaller things in life. Appu becomes a person you want to befriend. Beneath the sad demeanor, there is a lad who yearns for the simpler pleasures.
The writing is easy and uncomplicated which compliments the calm story line. The characters are defined in detail. However, I felt that there were too many insignificant characters which diluted the main plot at some points and left me wondering about their importance in the main plot. The ending can be perceived as hopeful.
This one might not strike a chord with fans of thrillers but will certainly please those who like simple emotional dramas or even fairy tales.
About the Author: Writing a book has been a childhood dream. I remember dad
reading out the 'Merchant of Venice' when I was quite young. I hadn't understood much then. Vague memories of dad's rimmed glasses and the story of Shylock still remain. Dickens happened a few years later and I thought I was Pip. Along came the Famous Five and Hardy Boys and then Harold Robbins and Sidney Sheldon. Before I realized, I was an adolescent. Life flew fast. One thing led to the other and all that remains of my childhood today are a collection of some fleeting yet beautiful memories. But somewhere deep down, the desire to write something always remained strong. It played hide and seek with me for years. I did not know what to write about. Whatever little I managed remained in a diary, then floppy disks, eventually making their way into my laptop.During weekdays I am a business analyst dabbling with figures and charts, a writer for a few hours during weekends, music, travel and reading at other times. (Source: https://www.gautamc.com/)
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Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from Kaffeinated Konversations for an honest and unbiased review. No monetary compensation was made for the write-up.