There go the wedding bells for a cute IIM alumnus, oven-fresh from classes, peddling soaps and detergents for an MNC! Déjà vu? Let’s find out.
We enter the story through a scene where the thirty years old beau of a twenty three years old management trainee who is not sure whether she is the ‘marrying type’, proposes marriage to her. The trouble is, the most beckoning years of carefree youth, the golden twenties, lie ahead of the girl, waiting to be lived. And to top it, the courtship with the gangly man is barely three months old!
It turns out that Vijay, the boyfriend, is from a traditional Brahmin family, strikingly different from Yahodhara’s, the narrator. Where Vijay’s folks are God-fearing vegetarians meld in orthodox middleclass ways, non-vegetarian food is staple fare at Yashodhra’s family. Her mother visits clubs and can down the odd beer too. But Vijay seems to have grown out of the shackles of traditions. At least, he refuses to be caged for life into a marriage arranged by his parents. It turns out that he is determined to have his say in the final round of a series of attempts at romances routinely torpedoed by his family.
We get glimpses of their first date together when they go watching ducks and fishing, their bickering and patch ups and their eventual marriage followed by honeymoon in ‘Goooaaaa’. We move ahead in life with the married couple who hunt interminably for non-sweating blue sofas, nearly turn into farmers, cope with driving lessons, move to a different city and invent social life for themselves. And all this while their contrasting personalities and appendages ignite enough sparks of merriment in a story already rippling with humour. Thus, it is only when they sit together in their wedding hall that Yashodhara realizes how ‘freakishly short upper body’ Vijay has! No wonder the poor photographer has a horrible time having their faces aligned conventionally, ‘Madam, can you more down, Sir, can you more up?’
‘Up yours, sir!’ mutters our heroine under her breath.
Then she gets pregnant and there is the familiar despair on her part for the loss of an unlived life of freedom and adventure. Nevertheless, they go ahead and have the baby and call her Peanut. The baby brings about many changes and challenges in their lives and their all too familiar conviviality starts frittering away. It blows into a ‘volcanic’ albeit hilarious climax where a young, fuming and flummoxed Yahodhara is warned of an impending disaster by a scampering man, ‘Run, Aunty! TSUNAMEEEE!’
However, the book is not without its sober moments. It is true, after all, that life is not a bed of roses, nor does it proceed forever with the easy jocularity of a comic strip. The many traps and pitfalls get illumined by the couple’s move to Mumbai, travails of nursing the baby, shifting of Vijay’s attention to Peanut, and going along with a live-in maid. Another significant strain is Yashodhara’s fight to be accepted as her true self, a non-vegetarian, non-saree-clad, guitar strumming and drum beating woman who likes to have her occasional drink.
The initial skepticism with the novel caused by a familiar sounding start wears off quickly as we are faced with a delightful tone, liberally spiced up with Hinglish and Hindi. That, the narrator has an uncanny eye for the comic in life as it abounds, both ordinary and extraordinary, is unmistakable. Right from the moment when ‘pop goes the question’ to the very end of the story, she uncovers the rolling miles of domesticity in the same vein. She doesn’t flinch in highlighting the hilarious even in absurd and alarming situations. And to her credit, she sounds decidedly natural rather than contrived. The pure, sterling humour of the book is reminiscent of installments of Flintstones, devoid of ironies, hidden meanings and subliminal messages. Don’t be surprised if you identify with some, if not many, of the emotions that swirl in those anecdotes.
The twin characters of the young couple pop out of the pages to quickly grow upon the reader. The author has tastefully sketched the minor characters too, notably that of Kajal, the old housemaid. And those looking for a serene message in the book would surely nod at what Vijay’s mother has to offer:
‘Ladne ki kyaa bat hain? Kabhi main maan jaati hoon. Kabhi wo maan jaate hain.’
In the end, Just married, Please Excuse turns out to be an uncomplicated and rollicking account of coming together of a couple hailing from disparate segments of the society. It is destined to put a stubborn smile on your face with its innate humour and disarming frankness.
(The review is part of IndiBlogger / HarperCollins Book Review initiative. To know more about Yashodhara Lal, do visit her blog.)
The book sounds so much nicer than the cover! I thought this was another of those chick-lit or chetan bhagatish novels which one read if there really was nothing better to do, fume while reading and throw it out in despair in the end! But obviously, I have to change my mind after your review! Writing with simplicity can be the most difficult of all! Thanks for sharing.
Richa, I share your thoughts about the cover: the book is infinitely more interesting. And hey, it is a far cry from what Mr Chetan Bhagat writes and it is surely on a higher plane than what they do in Chic-lit pages! Yes, it is hard to sparkle along the entire length of a book. Thanks for your visit.
Nice, sober review.
Thank you, TF.
Heart warming story of people from different backgrounds yet entwined with humor.Nice post indeed.
The book does contain tons of humour in its pages. Thanks for stopping by.
Splendid review, as always I must add.
Thank you for your kind compliment.
thanks for this review it does tempt one to read the book –and this also reminds me of a book –“any thing for you ma’m “
Thanks for your confidence in me. I have not read the other book you have mention.
I have read the book too ! Somehow I found kajal and her jamai babu-isms really hilarious. A very nicely written review !
That is so true, Ruchira! Thanks.
I haven’t read this book, and to be frank was avoiding reading it. But I think I may pick up a copy after reading your review.
Ha ha! You may stop avoiding it now.
Mmm! Uma! Another of your splendid reviews! As usual you make the reader itch to pick the book when you find it good 🙂
Thanks for the compliment, Suresh. I’d strongly recommend this book to you. You are just going to love the humour.
Umm..the list of books you are referring to is increasing…:) I don’t know how I will feel after reading the book, but you make it so appetizing. 🙂 A sweet review from you.
Don’t you worry! You’ll be just fine after reading the book. 🙂
I am reading it and I am halfway through. They have reached Mumbai.
It is easy on the brain right now. 🙂 Lets see in what state I am by the time it ends. 🙂
If it has been easy on your brain till now, you won’t be disappointed for the rest of the length. 😉
It has been a long long times since I read anything other than my favorite blogs. But you have tempted me. And it is just possible that I pick up this book.
This may be a fine pick up after the long recess after all!
i was just wondering whats this with these IIM guys, they dont want to do business, but write their own love stories.. :)..
Maybe because they are humans first, probably smarter!
Umashankar, this may one of the reviews I’ve enjoyed most so far – and I’ve been lucky enough to get lots! 🙂
Many, many thanks, and am so glad you liked the book!
I am happy that you approve. Best Wishes and thanks to you too for that fine tale! 🙂
So identified with the book and this review! Great writing both of you 🙂
Thanks for the unique compliment.
I wish what vijay’s mother say’s becomes true in every household.. so many problems will go away
a great review uma sir , thank you
Bikram, messages can be found even in the unlikeliest of places. It is up to us to receive them. Many thanks to you.
Read this book already, its really an awesome one in my library
Well, Chetan Bhagat gets a lot of people to read. That can’t be bad.
I am clueless about that one, sir!
really this book was nowhere in my ‘to read’ list . but after your review I guess i will give it a try on a lazy weekend when i don’t want to do much of thinking as such .
That fits perfectly in the scheme of things!
You are so good with this review, you gave a clear look at the book and it’s characters. Would love to read this one 🙂
Thanks for your kind words, Ghazala, but I am not sure how good I am with the review. I always strive to put a clear picture though.
Good review, will definitely pick up a copy now.
You will not be disappointed!
At the moment I am reading children’s books and Mitch Albom. I might pick it if I get a free copy 😉 But your review is tempting me to maybe even buy it!
Zephyr, it is one of those sunshine things you keep talking about; do read it. There is a contest on the author’s blog where you may just earn a copy for yourself and maybe a lunch too!
Thanks for stopping by.
Sounds good…..will pick it up 🙂
Great to have you here!
A wonderful review .. may be a step ahead of the book itself ;). No wonder the author appreciated you review.
We have to be reasonable, Farida. Six hundred odd words of a review can never stand up to the trials and tribulations and the monumental efforts that go into authoring of a book. If the author has chosen to put in her stamp of approval on my piece, it shows how graceful and down-to-earth a person she is.
Coming back to your glowing compliment, many thanks to you! 😀
Hi , That is quite a review!! Liked it so much. I have read the book, done the review but your review is so full of life and an apt one at that.
Thanks for the appreciation! I am happy we agree about the book.
Now that is a cracking review! I don’t expect anything less from you. I actually love such tales because I see so much of myself in these kind of stories. One good thing about Indian stories is that we can relate to the cultural stuff as well as the language and circumstances that seem to flow from our own lives. I will surely pick it up. But first, I have to place a request at my library. As you know, I am not buying any books these days :).
Many thanks, Rachna, for the kind words. It is a very Indian tale indeed and you are going to enjoy each page of it! 🙂
Now that’s what you call a well-written review!
Thank you, Spaceman Spiff.
That sounds interesting, Uma. I haven’t read Yashodara’s blogs, Now I must visit her….asap! Thanks for the neat n crisp review…beautiful language 🙂
Hers is a refreshing blog, as is her book. Thanks.
What a review! I am sure if the author herself reads it, she will be on cloud nine 🙂
Jas, Yashodhara has read the review already.
Then I am sure she must be really happy.
Guess she has earned the happiness! 🙂
That was a very entertaining review, USP.
I swear, you make me want to read this one too. 🙂 I love how you share so much of the story yet manage to convince us that there’s so much more to it.
I hope you’re doing well. 🙂
Thank you for the heart-warming compliment. I am doing fine, Divya; may God bless you too.
Seems you were busy churning out reviews while I was sleeping!!
When we met you said one is complete and waiting to be posted – but now I see two!
Felicity with words and economy of expression are commendable aspects your writing … worth learning and emulating.
The book you have reviewed has an oft repeated theme which is dominating the mindscape of young writers in India – particularly in a period when the institution of marriage itself is being questioned.
You say that although the storyline is the same old one the treatment is different. Somehow new Indian literature leaves me cold. Maybe exposure to Chetan Bhagat and Amish Tripathi has led to some sort of allergy.
I think I shall stay satisfied with your review, which is balanced and, as always, well-written.
Waiting to read your book – I am sure it will be different! But before that the next article at the blog …
Jayadev, you fully deserved the break! Yes, I have been writing reviews just as I had said. Thanks for writing such a glowing review of my review! It encourages me endlessly. 😀
Wonderful review!!! I myself just started writing reviews and this is a good place for me to pick inspiration from!! Loved the review. The book sounds like a fun read. You’ve inspired me to pick the book up and read it!! Thanks
Thank you for trusting me, NM.
certainly. your review makes a new picture in my mind. it must certainly not a chetan bhagat-is novel. though i have Gore’s Circle of Three pending to be read and next buy should be this one. may be i have to revisit this blog to share my views on this title 🙂 🙂 🙂
You are welcome, gentleman!
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