book review, Literature

Pyjamas Are Forgiving Book Review: Khanna Plays it Loose as the Book Leaves Nothing Memorable

Pyjamas Are Forgiving attempts to paint before the reader a picture of a woman that we often overlook and not acknowledge. It tries to take you to that place where you see things in a different light. Its almost as if the writer has taken a decision to not allow you to look at it in any other way and to just see things the way

she expects you to see them. Which, I must say, prepares you for a different kind of ride, with the motives set right. But, unfortunately, a book is not just made of motives, it’s a lot more than that.

Twinkle Khanna’s latest, is a tale of a 40-ish woman, Anshu, who goes to Shanthamaaya spa in Kerala for an ayurvedic detox, but very early on in her stay there she finds herself encountering with her ex-husband, Jay, who is there with his young and beautiful wife, Shalini, and a devil-may-care, reckless cousin brother, Lalit. Being face-to-face with her ex-husband creates big waves in Anshu’s rather static life and what follows is complete mayhem in her peaceful life.

Just hearing this premise builds so much excitement that you can’t help but want to go to the bookstore and pick this book right away and read it, and rightly so, just because the mere thought feels like a delight. But to our loss, Khanna plays it loose as it leaves nothing memorable when you’re done with the book, except for a few lines!

The humour and wit, which Khanna is already known for, plays an important role, helping the story breathe a little, like the scene where Vivaan, another patient at the spa, studies the palms of a Babaji or the scenes which show the stereotypical conversations between mother and daughter or between two sisters are very well written.

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Since the story is based on the Anshu’s 28 days stay at Shantamaaya flashbacks become necessary, like the ones which narrate how the relationship between Anshu and Jay fell apart or the time when Shalini enters Jay’s life amongst other important incidents that help the story move forward and help establish the characters better.

It is good to see that Khanna doesn’t shy at all to talk about topics like sex, homosexuality and harassment which are still considered somewhat taboo in India. Witnessing this I couldn’t help but wonder how a male writer would have written this book as it feels very personal to the protagonist. It feels more like a memoir than a fiction book, which is a big achievement.

Almost every chapter starts off by establishing the scene instigating the feeling of something thrilling and intense but very often it is followed by some really loose plot points. There are a lot of characters but with little heft, you feel for them only on some instances while on the others you don’t even care of what’s going on. Other than Anshu, I enjoyed the character of Jenna, a foreign patient at the Ayurvedic spa, who is frail but also has some sort of mystery and intrigue in her.

There is occasional use of some very strong and powerful lines by Khanna like, “Blame is a bullet that the world fires at the already wounded victim.” That provides some fuel to the story which lacks that general punch.

In the end, Pyjamas Are Forgiving is a book that has moments where it shines, although only a few, otherwise is throughout running down a runway but never taking off.

I’m going with 2 stars out of 5.

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