- Hardcover: 176 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Random House India (14 February 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0670089397
- ISBN-13: 978-0670089390
- Product Dimensions: 20.6 x 1.8 x 14 cm
- Average Customer Review: 20 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #9,197 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Poison of Love Hardcover – 14 Feb 2017
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‘The Poison of Love, an intense, dramatic novel written in spare, well-crafted prose, delves into the most terrible, bitter, corrosive emotion that can pass off as love... K.R. Meera keeps a firm, economical grip on her words, and most sentences either express an emotion or move the narrative this way or that... A deep, dark tale’ - The Hindu
‘Enthralling... disturbing... A book that resonates powerfully with some of our most primal impulses-a consuming love, a corrosive hatred, a need for vengeance... What stands out the most in the novella is the sheer power of Meera’s writing... The book retains enough of its nuances and intensity, due in no small part to the commendable work done by translator Ministhy S.’- Indian Express
‘K.R. Meera’s addictive latest novel follows the struggles of a young woman married to an incorrigible Lothario... Written with such breathless energy & foreboding that you can barely put the book down... The Poison of Love is a masterpiece in miniature’- The Hindu Business Line
‘This slim novel stews in the passionate juice of wronged love... Intensity breathes through [Meera’s] style and every sentence is almost angu¬ish... The plot seethes and twists... Ministhy is new to translating K.R. Meera but manages to wring out each drop of obsession’- Outlook
‘[A] searing love story... The brute force of [Meera's] plots, coupled with the irresistible perversity of her characters, make it easy to turn the pages of Meera's fiction... There is a sense of urgency in Meera's prose that is rare in any language... [Tulsi's] descent into black melancholy is the stuff of Greek tragedy (one is especially reminded of the venom of Euripedes' Medea), but also all too human for its vulnerability and fragility’- Huffington Post
‘The imagery that [Meera] uses is so intrinsic to the female experience, and to a sense of death and decay, themes that her stories are submerged in... The Poison Of Love [is] an almost bestial exploration of a cruel love, and the madness for revenge that deforms the protagonist Tulsi’- Mint
‘The most striking quality of K.R. Meera’s writing is her rare ability to cartwheel with elan into wholly different cultures, and fashion a realistic narrative from her imagination of other lives... But there's another quality I can't possibly miss... Meera’s capacity to take a basic human experience and give it a searing transformative twist... The Poison of Love follows a protagonist named Tulsi on her journey in Vrindavan, into a labyrinth of crazed love, feverish dreams, weary widows, unstoppable passion, and corpse-eating ants, and culminates in a Medea-like murder’- Ladies’ Finger
‘Meera’s writing is fluid, disturbing, and engrossing. It takes a common theme-of love and betrayal-and uses metaphors and symbolism to turn it into an unforgettable tale of a relationship between a woman and the man she cannot forget, but must, if she is to retain her sanity... Compelling and haunting’- New Indian Express
‘The Poison of Love is a meditation on toxic love, a key motif in Meera’s oeuvre... Her works, no matter what genre brim over with a rage and violence reminiscent of Mahasweta Devi’- Wire
‘Love and revenge with a feminist flavour... The Poison of Love’s feminist politics are taut... Despite the macabre details of The Poison of Love, its fundamental premise of betrayal and longing are resoundingly familiar’- Open
‘There are undercurrents of Greek tragedy . . . Meera is an expert plotter, each sentence reveals something new about the character and moves the action along, but nowhere can you anticipate what is coming next. Ministhy S.'s translation from the original Malayalam evokes the breathless energy of Meera's writing’- Telegraph
‘Meera effortlessly transports the reader into the world of each of her protagonists’- Deccan Chronicle
‘No one writes about searing love like K.R. Meera does, and this novel proves it again’- Scroll
About the Author
K.R. Meera is a multi-award-winning writer and journalist. She has published short stories, novels and essays and has won some of the most prestigious literary prizes including the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award, the Vayalar Award and the Odakkuzhal Award. Most recently, she won the Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award for Aarachar, widely hailed as a contemporary classic and published by Penguin Books India as Hangwoman. She lives in Kottayam with her husband Dileep and daughter Shruthi.
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“Love is like milk. With the passage of time, it sours, splits and becomes poison.”
It’s a beautifully haunting book about Tulsi, an IIT graduate who is swept off her feet by the charismatic Madhav, and they elope and marry.
Madhav’s idea of love is totally different. He sees it as an offering or alms which he gives to various women. He has had 27 girlfriends before he married Tulsi, the final one.
Love does strange things to people. Tulsi, an IIT graduate, is blinded by Madhav and she loses herself in the process. I really couldn’t help but feel pity for her.
I hated Madhav. A selfish prick who takes everything for granted and feels that everyone should have see and understand his perspective about love. His character is very well written. The symbolism of the ants is very well used. Each chapter begins with the ants swarming in, swarming out. You’ll understand the significance once you read the book.
I finished this book in a single sitting and it left me speechless and full of questions. I desperately wanted it to vent out all my feelings after reading.
The ending left a big welt on my bookish heart. Books like these make me feel proud of myself for being a reader.
K.R. Meera has become my auto-buy Author now. I will willingly read anything by her.
Thank God for translated books.
Tulsi is the main protagonist of this book and the story starts in Vrindavan where she is a Meera sadhu now. The story then continues in flashbacks, switching between past and present. When Tulsi was young, she was a talented woman who had a bright career ahead of her and was about to marry her fiance. But then there was Madhav to whom she was strongly attracted and thus leaves her fiance and marries Madhav.
Madhav had 27 girlfriends in past and Tulsi was his 28th. Still, Tulsi believed him and dedicates herself towards his charms and sweet talking. But soon she comes out of her fairy tale and realized that the things were not what they appeared. She makes various horrific choices in the way and finally lands to Vrindavan as shaven-headed Meera Sadhu. A very sick but apparently repentant Madhav then traced her to Vrindavan and was desperate for an audience. Tulsi was still shocked to see that she was still attracted towards him after all the mishappenings. She finally met an end that was hard to believe.
Love is something which is widely used everywhere and in every context. It can itself become intense if it goes after a limit. K.R. Meera has effectively started this book with these lines:
"Love is like milk. With the passage of time, it sours, splits and becomes poison."
The starting line itself gives a creepy feeling. Though Tulsi was a bright student, she leaves behind a broken family and a promising career to embarks on a life that she never expected, just because she was too blindly in love with Madhav. Even after 8 years of her misery and finally ending up in Vrindavan as Meera sadhu, she was not able to detach herself from her feeling about Madhav and the repulsion that she carried out for him, though she resented him.
"I will love that man. With bitter resentment, I will love him. In my hollow heart, I shall safeguard that beat of revenge to ensure his destruction. I shall emit the agony of bones falling of. I will haunt him until death — and beyond. When he attempts to kiss another woman, he shall be smashed to smithereens."
Interesting thing is, the name of her husband is another name for Lord Krishna, and like Krishna, Madhav was invested in the love of many women too. Krishna had the charm to attract women and so does Madhav. He wooed her and made her believe to broke her engagement and go with him.
"Love has one fault, Tulsi. If you let go, it will fall. It will shatter on the ground. You should not let go."
Madhav had the inability to say no to love, similar to Krishna. He was a serial-cheater (if that’s even a word?). The similarities between Madhav and his “divine” namesake, made me think that how our mythology was twisted in a way that it also gave wrong meanings if considered clearly. They can be nightmares in today’s world. Both Radha and Meera fall to the same faith, because of the love of a single man. K.R. Meera has clearly depicted how that can be fatal in today’s modern world. When Madhav told Tulsi about his 27 previous girlfriends, he had flawless logic to romanticise his affairs:
"I shall never refuse any woman’s love. It would devastate her. If my love can make a woman happy, why would I want to deny her? You do not understand, Tulsi. They were all unhappy. They had never been loved. They had been denied love by fathers, husbands or sweethearts. I offered them my love as alms. This body of mine will be eaten up by ants and worms one day. If it can be of use to another human being, why should I refuse? But be clear about this — I never desired any of them.”
This was my first book by K.R. Meera. I was not familiar with her writing style that’s why I was little shocked by the narrative and description. Tulsi’s relationship with Madhav was extremely twisted and destructive. Her state of mind was perfectly described by the author which made it equally engrossing and disturbing. The author has clearly made the line between love and hatred by moving back and forth between Tulsi’s present (in Vrindavan) and her past while building up to a chilling end.
"My love is like a serpent that has swallowed its own tail. It twisted around in circles, trying to consume itself. The hunger never abated. The mouth never became free."
A unique thing in this book was the description of corpse-eating ants which perfectly stitched parts of the story together. Tulsi used to have dreams about ants and then she also saw them in Vrindavan where she used to live. She associates them with death. She was so hurtful and mad in love that she was self-destructive.
“I needed wounds. To hurt myself more grievously, I needed more wounds.”
Before each chapter, there is a black page with an image of ants. As each chapter progresses, the number of ants increases and that leaves a strong mark on readers mind. But there is no redemption for either Tulsi or Madhav.
Besides all the things, there is no redemption for either Tulsi or Madhav. Tulsi experiences moments of truly vicious happiness when she manages to bring pain to Madhav. She was determined to make him miserable. When ill Madhav reached to Vrindavan, she felt immense pleasure by seeing him in that state. It is only towards the end that Tulsi really understands him:
“Madhav, you are like Krishna, aren’t you? Love Incarnate? Like the Krishna of Vrindavan, are you not a slave to love and devotion?”
This novella has been written in the first person and goes back and forth in time. Due to this, sometimes it was difficult to understand the exact plot. Except this, it was dramatic and realistic with all the feelings.The novel ends on a dark note, as it had begun. K.R. Meera keeps a firm grip on her words. The feel on every page is that of the scraping of raw skin and horrified. Towards the end, you can’t actually make sympathy on either of the characters as both were bad on their own parts. This book leaves you with pain, anger, resentment, and sadness and I think this is the main thing that author wants to deliver.
The Poison of Love is an intense and dramatic novel which clearly explains what a corrosive love can do. It is not an easy book to read and I would certainly not recommend it if you are in a mood for a light read. It is a strange story of emotion and betrayal which turns out to be dark. For many of the readers, this is a one-sitting read. It gives you mixed feelings where at one point you can find yourself devouring the characters while on another page you find yourself completely horrified.
The book contains great philosophical quotes , one of my favourite being "Love is like milk ,with the passage of time, it sours , splits and becomes poison." The book is beautiful, amazing and absolutely awesome.
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