Cold Feet

I have been contemplating cutting down my screen time even more than I already have, because I feel that despite doing fewer things and having all the liberty to do as I please with the 24 hours on any given day, I am still sometimes left feeling hopelessly out of breath. Like I haven’t been unable to pack in everything I want to. And recently I have felt this when a 200+ page book lingers on for more than a few days. So today, as an experiment, I didn’t turn on my computer at all (until now, of course). It turns out that I can finish a whole book in that time instead. All 250 pages of it. That it was a light, breezy read definitely helped.

I began reading Cold Feet almost as soon as my eyes opened today. And aside from having a couple of friends over for a mid morning coffee and napping a bit, I did nothing but read. I cannot remember the last time I read a book, cover to cover, in a single day. And in case you’re wondering if that’s a measure of how much I enjoyed Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan’s latest offering, I’m woefully sorry. It isn’t. It was not unputdownable. It was just a good book to pull this little experiment off with — breezy, not demanding on the brain, and went by in a jiffy.

I am a big fan of eM’s blog, and over 4 years ago, I had thoroughly enjoyed her first book You Are Here just as much. Of course back then I was fascinated by how a blogger could turn into a rage like she did, and then go on to be a best-selling novelist. Her first book too was enjoyable because the plot, her style and events in the almost-autobiographical narrative were only too fmailiar. Having been through a some, if not, all of it myself, it was easy to get it. So I had been eagerly waiting for Cold Feet, her latest. When I read here and here that others who shared my opinions about the blog and the book loved Cold Feet, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.

But I have to admit, after I finished it, I was just left feeling a little meh. Cold Feet was just a strictly okay read for me. Nothing evocative, nothing particularly beautiful or outstanding. While I agree with MM, in that eM’s style flows with ease and she doesn’t have to try too hard, I have to disagree with her when she says the characters didn’t come across as caricatures. In fact, I found that despite the spectrum of women she has portrayed, many traits and details she has etched out played directly to preconceived moulds that we expect certain kinds of women to fit into. The NGO worker who turned out to be gay. The girl from the news channel who comes across as daring merely because she is with the older man. The apprehensive woman about to meet her gora in-laws. The spooning of bodies and the cupping of breasts that has all the women instantly turning to mush. It left me just feeling a bit, okayyyy, been here, read that too many times before.

It didn’t help that I was at times mixing up the characters. Am I the only one that thought they were a bit indistinguishable now and then, and I had to keep going back to the blurb to remind myself of which sub-plot I was in. The stories are entwined ever so subtly and the not so gentle shifts from 1st person to 3rd and back (two characters narrate their stories in 1st person) made it even harder for me. But I could just put that down to my own stupidity.

Towards the end, I recalled reading this post where eM vehemently opposes her books being categorised as chicklit. And it made me think, if this is not chicklit, what is? It is a story about five women, searching for love, doing womanly things, that mostly only women would be inclined to read about. I cannot imagine any of my male friends ever picking this book up, looking at the cover (even though it doesn’t have a pink stiletto on it), reading the blurb and wanting to put everything else on hold and start reading it. It is light, frothy, sometimes humorous, sometimes even slightly vapid — everything conventional chicklit is made out to be. And I don’t think there is anything wrong with it at all. I buy chicklit. I read chicklit. I enjoy chicklit. So what is wrong in calling a spade a spade?

So no, this one didn’t work for me. India’s answer to Bridget Jones (as proudly quoted on the cover to be an Asian Age opinon) it is definitely not. But I am willing to give eM a chance, because I have read and loved her work. And I continue to love her blog, even with her sporadic and tangential posting habits. That MinCat thinks eM’s second book is infact her ouevre makes me want to add Confessions of a Listmaniac to my list (hah!) and give it a second chance.

And then, right after that I am going to re-read Bridget Jones. Because it has been far too long. And I want to read some real chicklit. Frothy, yet sharp-witted. Light, yet insightful. Chicklit that is not ashamed to be called chicklit.

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25 thoughts on “Cold Feet

  1. That would be really interesting :)

    And what I meant to say is that because of its content, themes and the nature of the style, chicklit tends to appeal more to women. Of course there are always exceptions and maybe you are one of them. Actually I felt You Are Here was not chicklit, in the strictest of senses. I think the husband and his brother read the book after me too.. but Cold Feet is more chick-oriented. Let me know what you think when you read it. Im curious!

  2. Revati, I have a recommendation for u. If you haven’t read ‘Her Fearful Symmetry’ by Audrey Nifenegger yet you really must. It is unputdownable.
    I have started reading ‘How to be a Woman’ and enjoying it so far :)

    1. Hehe, me too. Especially after this!
      Although I have read a fair bit of Indian chicklit, I am always skeptical, and this one has once again proven that desi writers aren’t quite “there” yet in this genre. I have read good things about Anuja Chauhan though, and now I want to give that a try.

      1. Smita

        You MUST read ANuja Chauhan, especially her latest “Those Pricey Thakur Girls” wonderful, sassy, unputdownable and rare book where u will regret that has ended!!!

        1. Yes, as many people have told me. And more than one person has said she takes chicklit up by several notches — has a distinctive style, intelligent and witty. Maybe I will just jump into Those Pricey Thakur Girls..

  3. I love eM’s blog. And she is a pioneer in her own way…to me at least.
    But even I think you have a point about the chick-lit part…chick-lit is chick-lit after all and there isn’t anything bad about that!
    And yeah,Bridget Jones,hahaha.:)

    1. I love eMs blog too. Have loved it for so many years now. But it doesnt take away from the fact that good blog does not equal to good book. And this book (whether one admits to labeling it chicklit or not) definitely left me underwhelmed and slightly disappointed.

      1. Smita

        I know I sound vehement, only because I expected better from her. Like many of us here I too love reading her blog but she disappointed me big time….

  4. WELLLLL you know what i think hee. but. mostly. i take issue with her rejection of chicklitt. why do we persist in accepting that books that deal with women and their concerns and emotional issues and relationships is of course d-uh inferior and for dismissal. it ANNOYS ME. romance, seeking companionship is inferior. GNARH!
    ahem,
    theres ton of superb chicklitt out there, jennifer weiner for one. jennifer crusie for another. i say take chick lit and be proud, run with it. bust the myths. RECLAIM th idea that womens concerns ARE important and worrying about relationships IS a valid focus for a book. so much Literature is also about that. identity, security, love these are themes that are part of EVERYONES life. stop putting them down.

    1. 100% spot on. Thats exactly what I meant. The book IS about women, love, relationships, insecurities, juggling a career and marriage — so many chick-specific issues. Why should we shy away from them? And if entire books are being written about them, why is that a bad thing? Where is the shame in calling chicklit, chicklit? Especially because I thought Cold Feet was 100% square in that zone.

  5. I think Cold Feet definitely falls into the Chick Lit category, even though it is more wistful and less frothy, but You are Here was less easy to categorise. Also, though Bridget Jones’s Diary is like my bible, I think there are different kinds of chicklit and eM and Helen Fielding are at two ends of the spectrum.

    1. Totally agree. I was just telling R this morning that I wouldnt so easily categorise You Are Here in the chicklit bracket, as I would Cold Feet. And yes bridget jones and cold feet are vastly different. But i think the unabashed, unpretentious chicklitty feel has something to do with that.

  6. I LOVED Audrey Niffeneger’s Her Fearful Symmetry.

    And I’m sorry you didn’t like Cold Feet. I quite liked it – for all the reasons I already listed on the blog. Again, I’m mostly looking at this as a compliment to eM. She has it in her to be fabulous and I feel like we’re all pushing her to achieve that. I didn’t enjoy You are Here. Maybe because I was way past that stage and no longer interested ….

    1. I think she could be fabulous too..I think with this one her aim was slightly off..if that makes any sense.

      And more points for Audrey Niffeneger — yay.

  7. Pingback: Small victories | hAAthi

  8. ddeepa

    And now this is the second post of yours that I am reading, which has given me a book recommendation :)! Yay! Not the Cold Feet, but added Her Fearful Symmetry to my list :)

  9. good review! and i agree about calling a spade a spade. chick lit although its used dismissively has great stuff under the umbrella genre. i think of jane austen and charlotte bronte as ‘chick lit’ and i love those books.

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