Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers India
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Radhika Jha’s novel, My Beautiful Shadow, is set in Japan of the 1980s. It was the time when the Japanese economy was experiencing a heavy boom and its unemployment rate was as low as 4.9%. It was the time when various new brands were storming Japan and ‘they brought a new religion of ‘Happyism’’. The author presents the mad consumerism that engulfed the country in those years and drove all money out of their pockets through the story of Kayo. Kayo is a Plain Jane and is in high school with her friend Tomoko. Tomoko has looks to die for and is perfect, atleast according to Kayo, who feels hidden in her shadow.
“There was no part of Tomoko that was not perfect. Her ears were small and well-shaped and sat flat against the side of her head. She was tall and slim like a model. Her skin was fine and translucent and seemed to glow with the kind of pale blue light that belonged only to the finest Chinese porcelain. But beauty, like a candle flame, creates dark shadows where it goes.”
She meets Ryu, a friend of Tomoko’s boyfriend. They start dating and soon the courtship culminates in marriage. After marriage, they shift to a town in the country. As the book continues, Kayo’s past and its effect on her present and the course of her entire life is revealed. She is led into a world of beauty, where her oxygen is shopping for clothes, shoes , dresses, whatever but shopping!
What I liked
The blurb of the book was intriguing enough to make me pick it up. The theme of the book was new and it was a welcome change from the usual romance fiction. The author’s style is impeccable. Her words are sharp and her thoughts straight forward. This makes the book a fast read.
What I didn’t like
The major problem in the book was the characterisation. The book was focused only on Kayo (okay, I hated her) and we hear little from the other characters. The story becomes very bland after a point of time and you start losing interest. The ending was held together very badly and Kayo will leave no stone unturned to irritate you.
In the end, I wished that the author had developed the book better. I was truly very excited to read this one, but the book came down as a complete disappointment. Still, I will say it was a good attempt compared to the usual fiction one gets to read. If the theme really interests you, you can read the book; otherwise, you aren’t missing much!
Looking for more scoop before you decide to buy? India Today has a great review right here.