- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Readomania; First edition (1 November 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9789385854286
- ISBN-13: 978-9385854286
- ASIN: 9385854283
- Package Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 2 cm
- Average Customer Review: 26 customer reviews
Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
#1,50,076 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #2587 in Indian Writing (Books)
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About the Author
Harshali Singh is a New Delhi based Judge at the Consumer Forum, an avid reader and a passionate Painter. An academician with a decade of experience of working with preprimary age group in different capacities ranging from Operations Head to the Curriculum and academic head. She, as a teacher trainer conducts workshops to enhance proficiency in advanced teaching methodologies.
She is a trained Occupational Therapist from the Institute of The Physically Handicapped and also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Education while currently pursuing her L.L.B degree. While handling these demanding jobs she managed to take out time for her passion- oil painting and has also held an exhibition of her exclusive, vibrant paintings at the India Habitat Centre in 2014. When not busy with the various roles she portrays she is usually found with her books and her family, which include two teenage children and a very patient Other Half, relaxing.
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Well, they say never to judge a book by its cover. So when I first got my hands on this book, I saw the cover where a lady was standing in a beautifully draped saree and gazing through the window. And so I instantly made a connect with it, yes, just by having a look at the cover, cause I’m a person for whom having a window in her own space is a great deal. There is surely something unsurpassable about a window. So I was already in love with the book, totally unaware of the tale it had to tell.
And so when I started flipping the pages, sometimes I felt like I was standing right there, near the same window and I was witnessing all the drama. Though it is one book which is written with ultimate finesse, but there are certain favourite parts of it that I absolutely adored. And those are:
• The fact that “A haveli with a hundred doors” is narrating the story.
• The names of the children. At first I could only observe that “Aruna” being the first child, bears her name from “Arun” and “Uma” but I was absolutely stunned by the rest of the names which were in the alphabetical order.
• That each character was brought to life. I had a picture in my mind for every character.
• The author’s command over the language and storytelling. It is difficult to not jump over the next chapter even if you have other things in hand to do.
• Aruna and Bhuvan having tea in their balcony. I’ve always been fascinated with the Tea Time and look forward to it every day.
• Bhuvan’s chivalry. He is one character I fell in love with.
• Bhavaya’s strength and Dheeraj’s dheeraj (patience). Somewhere I am secretly praying that the sequel to this book releases and it talks about both these characters.
• So many lessons and observations that this book gave me, about human tendencies and most importantly, our fears.
• And trust me I could simply go on and on. And so I’d suggest that instead of reading this review here, better buy this book and give it a read. It’s all worth your time and effort.
The characters are well woven, intricacies of their lives bared and well defined. The thoughts, apprehensions and fears that Aruna goes through during her second marrige are beautifully portrayed. Her supportive husband, her relationship with her parents and sisters leave you with a warm smile.
All in all, a very well written book which might take some time to grow on you initially. Relax and go with the flow, and you will find a tale told well.
When I accepted this book for review, I was not at all aware that this book offers such a sensitive theme underlying a simple looking story. And that being said, the theme is – Emotional and physical abuse in a marriage and living your life beyond it. Yes, you read it right! If you look at the cover and the title, you would think it as a simple story. Yes, I agree, the story is simple but behind that simplicity underlies the darkest truth of our society (basically the Indian society) and the condition of women in it.
This is a story about Aruna, a young divorcee, who marries Bhuvan. Bhuvan is a simple man who loved Aruna since the college days. Though married again, Aruna was not able to forget his first marriage which was abusive. Her first husband Rafi abused her physically as well as emotionally and that created a long-lasting effect on Aruna. She expected Bhuvan to behave exactly like Rafi and was not able to feel secure no matter how hard Bhuvan tried to make her feel. Their marriage was at stake. Will Bhuvan and Aruna be able to save their marriage? Would Aruna be able to leave her past behind and see Bhuvan as a different person? To know answers to these questions you need to read this book.
Now that I am reading the blurb again, I can see that it is giving away most of the story. The story is as simple as that, in fact, many of the Indian readers can connect with it instantly as the script is similar to a Bollywood movie in many aspects. What makes it different is the narrator! The narrator is not a typical person, but it is the Haveli! Yes, the Haveli in which Aruna’s family was living. Now that is totally different, isn’t it? Imagine a house telling its own story, telling what secrets it has confined in its walls, the stories of all the generations that lived in it. This point was really interesting. I haven’t read any story with such narration so I was really impressed.
The underlying theme of the story is that of domestic abuse. In a country like India, it is a topic which is common. I feel ashamed while writing this, but this is the truth. Domestic abuse is a topic about which we hear stories on the daily basis and Harshali Singh has managed to portray those things perfectly.This is an issue which should be highly portrayed in the writings but unfortunately, these kind of stories are often overshadowed by the typical romantic tales. Rafi, Aruna’s ex-husband always treated her like dirt. She was not even allowed to go her parents’ house without his permission and if she did so, she was beaten by him. Rafi had wrong intentions about Aruna’s younger sister Bhavya which ultimately broke their marriage and also made up a wall between Bhavya and her family. This is a horrific example of how your relationship with a wrong person not only destroys you but all those people too who are related to you. Harshali Singh has perfectly captured the feelings of a person who was in an abusive relationship.
This story also tells the struggles of a middle-class family especially if the family has so many children. Here Aruna had 5 siblings and we can imagine how difficult it would have been for her parents to manage the family within the income of a single person. Harshali Singh has beautifully described all their struggles and make us feel what it is to be grown in a large family.
When we reach halfway through the book, then we came to know more about Dheeraj, Aruna’s brother. Dheeraj wanted to be a chef but like a typical Indian family, it was a profession considered to be for females so Dheeraj’s father didn’t allow him to do so. Instead, he wanted him to continue working on his Saree shop. The author has portrayed another issue here that still exists in the Indian society – Children are not allowed to do whatever they want. It is like a taboo in Indian society that a few professions are more suitable for girls than boys and vice-versa. I can’t see why this differentiation? Any job is not defined by a gender role but this discrimination still exists.
Apart from this, it was also portrayed how important it is, in our society, for women to have a son. This is a really disgusting thing that still exists in our society. if a woman can’t bear a son then she would not get the respect she needed and Harshali Singh has written very wisely about it.
A unique thing that Harshali Singh included in this story was a disabled character. Now, tell me, how many Indian stories you have read where the author includes such a character? Not many, I guess? Here that character was Aruna’s second younger sister Charu, who was blind. But the thing to be applauded here is that besides this disability, Uma doesn’t let her daughter be left behind. Instead, Charu gets out of the city and persuaded to follow her dreams similar to Bhavya. This is a really great emphasis shown on the strength of women.
Apart from these good parts of the story, obviously there were faults too. It was hard for me to get into the story from the beginning. There were a lot of good vocabulary used so it would not be suitable for the beginners.
Sometimes it felt that there were unnecessary descriptions. At some places, those descriptions were filling the pages and I felt that the story could not have been affected if those were missing. Also, there were so many characters involved in the story which made it confusing sometimes. Each chapter was dedicated to the story of a different character so it was little difficult to regain the reading flow.
The end of the story was totally in a typical Bollywood movie style and it felt unreal. Though I expected a good ending but nothing like a typical end.
A window to her dreams is a heroic tale of a woman fighting from her past and growing out of her abusive relationship. It is a story of courage and determination. With amazing descriptions, it clearly depicts what it feels like to be in an abusive relationship. If you want to read a story about a survivor then I would definitely recommend it. You won’t feel like you are reading a debut novel of the author Harshali Singh.