Publisher: Rupa Publications
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Creme Brulee, Ramona Sen’s debut novel hits all the right notes. It’s light-hearted, funny, and has just enough romance to be enjoyable without being mawkish. Buy Creme Brulee here
Upper-class Bengali anglophile Aabir Mookerjee runs a very propah restaurant called E&B (for Eggs & Bacon). Aabir is gentlemanly almost to a fault, finicky about his appearance, his car, and his manners. Miraculously, the author manages to avoid turning Aabir into an unbearably pompous prat. Since boy must meet girl, he meets Kimaya Kapoor, who, despite her terribly affected name, is quite a sorted person. Her only quirks seem to be her dress sense, the opposite of Aabir’s prim and proper attire. Having lost her husband a couple of years before, she’s about to open a new tea room in town, likely to be E&B’s competitor, a place called The Mad Hatter.
This sounds very similar to the plot of “You’ve Got Mail” with the genders reversed; but actually, it isn’t. The author deftly uses supporting characters – Aabir’s mom, his undead grandmother, his best friend Rana Raina and Kimaya’s mother-in-law Tanuja to turn this into a mature, mellow love story between a dependable, well-mannered man and an independent, fun young woman.
What I liked
The story steers well clear of typical chick-lit tropes. Rather, it is the conversations – between Aabir and Kimaya, Aabir and Rana, Kimaya and Victoria – that drive the tale.
One can clearly see the influence of P.G.Wodehouse, Downton Abbey and other British humourous pieces. The fact that the servers in the Mookerjee household are given their own space in the story is great, and adds another dimension to the social setting of the story.
What I didn’t
The character of Purohitmoshai was very one-dimensional. It seems a bit too easy to lampoon the dhoti-clad holy man the comic villain of an Indian novel that celebrates all things Western – chocolate and cream desserts, British manners and mannerisms, vintage cars. The character of Thakuma, the dead grandmother who roosts in a coconut tree keeping a sharp eye on the servants wasn’t nearly as effective as she could have been, and also seemed inconsistent.
This well-written book will appeal to someone looking for a light romance, who is also familiar with the nuances of the Bengali upper-class scene. If you generally turn up your nose at chick-lit and romance, but are looking for some light reading, then you should definitely buy this one. Buy Creme Brulee at the lowest price here
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