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Rukmini Bhaya Nair’s Mad Girl’s Love Song draws from literary giants to create a many layered tale, which is bound to intrigue literature lovers.
Review by Arunima Shekhar
Mad Girl’s Love Song, so titled after Sylvia Plath’s poem by the same name, is the story of Pari, also known variously as Ariel, Pariel and Parineeta; a girl born and brought up in post-colonial Bengal. She is left at a convent at the age of seven, following her mother’s suicide. This is where she has her first brush with Plath, Blake and D.H.Lawrence, fondly called David. Described by doctors as a schizoid, she believes herself to be an angel – aviomania being the disorder recorded in her medical history. Her so-called madness is attributed to an incident in her childhood.
The book is in three parts – a triptych, dedicated to Sylvia, William (this is indeed the longest part) and David. It’s a jumble – of events in the lives of the three poets, characters from their works, people around them and, at places, the works themselves. Pari is the common thread between all the three. She is Sylvia’s angel and her aide. She’s William’s angel, his Muse, pushing him to push his boundaries. With David, she is Pari, her true self.
Pari’s madness is surprisingly sane and she testifies to it. The book itself is “part detective, part literary history”. Everything falls into place towards the end of the book, Parineeta’s aviomania, her mother’s perceived madness that drives her to hang herself, the death of Badshah the Turkey as well as Pari’s affinity for the convent.
The author draws vivid pictures from the life of Pari and the three poets and ensures that the rant does not get boring at any point. If the words literature and poetry make you cringe, then you may as well avoid this book. If you’ve never heard the names Sylvia Plath or William Blake or D.H. Lawrence or John Milton, then this book might be a whole lot of cryptic for you. That said, if you do not belong to either of the above two categories, then this is a book you will definitely find interesting.
Publishers: Harper Collins.
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