Title: Without You
Author: Preethi Venugopala
Publisher: Write India Publishers
Price: Rs. 150 on Amazon.
When Ananya, a bubbly twenty-year-old engineering student, reaches her Grandmother's house in Sreepuram on a month long vacation, romance is the last thing on her mind. However, she meets Dr. Arjun there and falls head over heels in love.
As it often happens, the path of true love never runs smooth. Circumstances force them apart even though they were madly in love. She becomes a victim of depression. When everything fails to return her to normalcy, help arrives from an unexpected source. Will she ever find happiness again? Will time allow her heart to heal and forget Arjun? What indeed is true love?
Travel with Ananya to the picturesque Sreepuram, face the chaos of Bengaluru, and relish the warmth of magical Dubai in this heartwarming tale of love, betrayal, friendship, and miracles.
It always is a delight to read a book from an author whom you know personally. And if the author is a fellow blogger, then the joy doubles. Preethi Venugopala is a blogger friend whom I met during a blogger meet. I hadn't read her blog until then. But after I visited her blog, there has been no looking book. A grammar nazi, her words are always perfect and never out of place. Her fiction gives me a complex and I know that she is a better story teller than almost everyone out there. Her A to Z - 2015 posts were something to watch out for and her stories have a grip on the mind of the reader. Well, atleast mine. When I heard that she was coming out with a full fledged novel, I was excited. First, because I was happy to see a fellow blogger turn author. Next, because I knew that the book would be good.
Without You is a simple and warm love story between Ananya and Arjun. On a vacation to her grand mother's house, Ananya meets Dr. Arjun and is besotted by him. And this happens in the third page of the book. Yes, the book is fast paced and I finished it in well under three hours. Arjun falls in love with her too and soon they have the grand mother's blessings as well. When everything seems rosy, enters Arjun's mother to ruin the scene. Arjun happens to be the scion of a famous group of companies called 'Shine Group' and his mother is not too pleased with his choice of a life partner. A misunderstanding follows and soon Ananya is left heartbroken and depressed.
She returns to Bangalore and tries to move on with her life but Arjun and his thoughts continue to plague her. Chance meetings with a certain Colonel Nair, who always tells her that Arjun is a good lad doesn't help her either as she starts pouring out her woes in a journal addressing it to who else but Arjun. Ananya tries her best to move on with the help of her friends Khushi and Poornima. Soon Ananya completes her education and is offered a job in Dubai. To start a fresh life, she moves to Dubai and is helped around by her cousin Kishore and his family. She makes new friends Tom and Lily and is enjoying her new life, when Arjun makes his presence felt in Dubai. What happens next? Will Ananya forgive Arjun or will his mother come back to create a scene again? And who exactly is this Colonel Nair who is helping Ananya silently? All these elements blend together to form the rest of the story.
This book is a breezy read and perfect for a romance lover like me. The story is simple and since I know the talents of the author very well, I could see glimpses of the author herself in Ananya. People who follow Preethi on Facebook will know her varied interests in painting and sketching. Ananya borrows this trait from her. The language used is crisp and the author paints a wonderful picture of the locations. Ananya clearly is the main protagonist as every page and every twist is all about her and she is present in every scene. But what troubled me was that, why would a girl so young and bright try to end her life over someone whom she had just met? I know that she was head over heels in love and this was her first love, but somehow I was not convinced about this angle.
Arjun, the hero is called a spineless fellow more than once in the book and that is exactly what he is. As a character going through inner turmoil due to the death of his father, his actions were something that I could not relate to. Him following every detail of Ananya's life and having pictures of her in various angles and even moving to Dubai felt stalkerish, although Ananya refuses to see it that way. Why didn't he come and talk to Ananya initially and save her from the misery she was putting herself through? The mention of Poornima's cousin, had me immediately guess the plot. It could have been implemented some other way. Maybe in the form of Ananya's grand mother. I was disappointed to not read more of her in the book, after having read so much about her in the earlier chapters.
Since it is Preethi's book, I was not surprised to find impeccable grammar. But the words "I would have made you mine" hinting at sex and "giving and receiving love" again hinting at the same felt out of place as did the sex scene. The story would have continued without it and still would have ended the way it did. If there is one major flaw in this book, then it is the character of Colonel R.S Nair. When he reminded Ananya of someone, I guessed who it could be. But I was only partially right. The other part left me dumbfounded and not in a good way. This portion was totally unbelievable and unnecessary. Although the author has explained it, it did not make sense to me. I also would have loved to read more about Ananya's relationship with her parents. This part was hardly explored. And so was the pain and trauma of Arjun's mother. I did not get to see her side of the story at all. She lost her husband too, didn't she?
Verdict: The story has heart and the flow is fast and crisp. The language used is brilliant and the descriptions are near perfect. Apart from the few flaws mentioned above, the book makes a decent read. A very good first attempt by the author.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5.