Review: The One You Cannot Have by Preeti Shenoy

December 4, 2013
Author: Preeti Shenoy
Publisher: Westland Publications
Year: 2013
ISBN: 9789383260683
Rating: ★★★★☆
Read book reviews from other readers

Preeti Shenoy is a prolific author. Her books, ‘Life Is What You Make It’ and the ‘The Secret Wish List’ are best-sellers. In this new endeavour, ‘The One You Cannot Have’ she talks about love in the 21st century. You can’t fight heaven and earth to be with your beloved any more; in this fast-paced world, where emotions are being swapped for emoticons, disregarding others’ feelings comes easily to us. Preeti Shenoy talks about true love in such times.

The Story

The story narrates the love, lives and relationships of four individuals – Shruti, Rishabh, Anjali and Aman. Shruti and Aman used to be inseparable. They were together for four long, intense years and always believed that their relationship would culminate into marriage. They had not imagined a future without each other. Her parents were dead set against the match, but Shruti fought with them. And then, suddenly Shruti left Aman. She had her reasons – her family life was hanging by a thread – but Aman couldn’t understand her mercurial sentiment. She walked out on him and got married to Rishabh, a ‘nice-boy-from-her-caste’ – the one her parents chose for her. Aman couldn’t take another blow to his already shattered heart, and on the advice of his boss-cum-mentor, he went overseas for work.

The new setting helped to nurse his broken heart and repress the memory of Shruti but he could never truly forget her, he never completely got over her. Shruti on the other hand, was happily married to Rishabh, or so she thought. Aman kept haunting her thoughts. She felt happy with Rishabh, but never as alive as she did with Aman. He was present in her subconscious and she wondered if she could really forget him.

When Aman decides to move back to India, he meets Anjali. Chirpy, trusting and attractive, she wins Aman’s attention and heart, albeit reluctantlyon his part . Aman is not ready for any sort of commitment, because the last time he gave away his heart, it was returned to him in pieces. Anjali is besotted by Aman and loves him. She wonders why he keeps giving her mixed signals about liking her but doesn’t give up (Almost!).

Shruti and Rishabh are having problems of their own, as marital bliss has given away to reality. Rishabh discovers few old emails in Anjali’s mailbox and is baffled about why she didn’t mention anything about her past. Anjali is furious at first and then overcome with contrition, as she tries to mend her failing marriage.

As their lives intertwine, Aman and Shruti meet after almost two years and their reaction to the situation is not what either would’ve imagined.

The Setting

The books moves between the busy arterial roads of Mumbai where Shruti stays and Bangalore, where Aman and Anjali reside. The contrast between the two cities is detailed perfectly and gives momentum to the story. The book also describes Gwalior, where Aman’s mother resides.

The Narrative

The book is fast-paced and doesn’t sag in the middle. It keeps flitting between the happenings in the lives of the Aman, Shruti and Anjali. Supporting characters like Rishabh, Aman’s mother, Mark, Dipika and Vikram keep the book alive. The relationship between Aman and his single mother is beautifully explored and portrayed. The conflict of thought and love, experienced by Shruti is very realistic. Marriage is not shown as a bed of roses, but as a reality of life, full of adjustment.


Don’t read this book for an insight to save your failing relationship, or to lament about the one YOU cannot have; Read this book for the reality that it transcends.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *