Book Review: Pyjamas Are Forgiving


Title: Pyjamas Are Forgiving
Author: Twinkle Khanna
Publisher: Juggernaut (7 September 2018)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Price: Rs. 197 on Amazon
Pages: 256

I have always loved Twinkle Khanna's columns and that is exactly why I enjoyed her first book 'Mrs. Funnybones'. I thought, here was a woman who knows to speak her mind and has a wonderful sense of humor. Her second book 'The Legend Of Lakshmi Prasad' was problematic. Somehow, fiction did not seem to be her forte. When she announced her third book as a novel, I was skeptical about it but excited nonetheless, thanks to the title. As soon as the book was on for pre-order, I placed an order and waited patiently for its arrival. I had started reading another book, but, as soon as this arrived I picked this one up immediately. The cover looked interesting as did the premise. So, what could go wrong?

This is the story of Anshu, our protagonist from Mumbai who is on a 28-day healing retreat at Shanthamaaya Sthalam in Kerala for her sleep issues. This place is an Ayurvedic spa which is over-expensive but does offer good results. Anshu has been divorced from her husband, Jay, seven years ago and is still bitter about it. Jay, is now married to the woman, Shalini, who he left Anshu for. As luck would have it, Jay along with his young wife and lecherous cousin, Lalit, also visit the healing center when Anshu is there. The place also has other guests, Jenna, a young foreigner; Vyacheslav and Afanasy, two Russians on a quest to lose weight; Javed and Anil, a gay couple from Bangalore. The story revolves around all these characters and focuses mainly on Anshu's predicament watching her ex-husband and his new wife every single day.

I have problems with this book on many levels. First, as a mallu. Second, as a bibliophile. Third and most importantly, as a woman and a feminist. The author needs to understand that not every malayalee is a Menon or a Pillai and just because it is a hospital in Kerala, it need not be called 'Thangam Hospital'. Also, meen curry and puttu are not the only things we eat. While the story does start of well, after a 50 odd pages, it terribly goes downhill. I have always admired the author for her wry humor, but using "entry from backside only" while taking about the gay couple is clearly in poor taste. For an author who has always been so articulate, she used the words vagina and penis as well as screw and fuck at least once in the book. While I do not have any problems with the words being used, we are all adults here, I know; the situation in which they are used is totally unnecessary and crass. The ending is abrupt and loose in every sense of the word.

For a woman who has always bravely spoken about prejudice against women and feminism, she fails in getting those traits right in her protagonist Anshu. Anshu married Jay knowing very well that he's a chauvinist and changes herself according to his likes and tastes. He continues to mock her throughout the course of their marriage and she surprisingly is okay with it, even when he compares her to The Joker for wearing red lipstick. Jay leaves her for Shalini, because she makes him feel young and alive. Could this be anymore cliched? While in the retreat, Anshu and Jay begin to have an affair and it almost feels like a tit for tat. Suddenly, his chauvinism and cheating is all forgotten and Anshu actually expects this affair to continue even after they leave the retreat. As annoying as this is, the weakest link in the book is that of Jenna. She's constantly being abused by Lalit, Jay's cousin and he is helping him cover it up. When Anshu learns that Jenna is being abused, the feminist in her comes to the surface and she makes a feeble attempt to fight for her, but ends up being mute in the end thanks to the cajoling of her ex-husband and now lover. The angle with Jenna's fall and hospitalization was totally ludicrous.

What fails the most for this book is, well, everything. Why would patients from a retreat be allowed to go to a cafe called 'Prince' and eat, drink and smoke whatever they want? During a massage, when Anshu is naked, Jay is able to see her in all bare-chested and curly bushed glory (the author's words, not mine) from the outside. For an exorbitantly priced place, you would expect closed rooms for a massage wouldn't you? For a place where sex is strictly forbidden, Anshu sleeps with Jay and Jenna is being raped by Lalit. What kind of a retreat is this? For a woman who knows what being cheated on feels like, how would she feel like doing the same thing to another woman? Also, what was the need to forcibly have a gay couple in the story is beyond my comprehension. It is almost like the author wanted to talk about all the current topics and deliberately added in the homosexuality and #MeToo moment in it. And how does our heroine save the day? With a grey underwear. I am not even kidding about this.

One thing that I never expected from Twinkle Khanna are the cringe worthy dialogues and asinine descriptions. Some of the actual lines from the book are as below:

"I don't care if you have cactus sprouting on your thighs, as long as I can get between your legs" - Jay says this to Anshu and yes, she sleeps with him after this.

"Hard but springy, you know what I mean, like two trampolines bang in the middle of her chest" - Jay telling his ex-wife Anshu about his new wife Shalini's breasts. And yes, she still sleeps with him.

"I should learn from her, about always massaging a man's ego, as much as his penis" - Anshu tells Jay about his new wife.

"Heaven lies between a woman's legs" - Anshu to Jay.

"We have all gone back to take second helpings of our favorite dessert. This is also the same thing" - Lalit to Anshu when he discovers that she's been sleeping with Jay.

"Now, that's a rasgulla I wouldn't mind trying a bite of" - Lalit to Anshu about Jenna.

"They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I say that a beauty is whoever lets you hold her" - Lalit to Anshu about women. Anshu doesn't say anything for this or the above two lines.

"I think I need to train Biwi number 2 to do this now" - Jay to Anshu on cleaning up his mess.

"Last night, she screwed her. Her face pushed against an old armoire, pressing against it with each thrust" - Anshu's own narrative about Lalit and Jenna.

These are just a few examples, the book is filled with many doltish lines like these. With the health retreat setup, there could have been a very interesting story. But with a waif concept stretched beyond its capacity, it falls flat on its face. This book goes to places that doesn't make sense and takes down the story with it. There are superfluous dialogues in the name of humor but they barely evoke a snicker from you. The title makes no sense either. The last page of the book tries desperately to justify it, but only adds to the disappointment.


Verdict: A star for the promising start and set-up. Another star for the very few witty dialogues. Apart from this, please steer clear of this one.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars.

28 comments:

  1. Bang on Soumya .. There was everything wrong abt the book. The plot( was there one??), the choice of expression, the characters and their play... It's time Twinkle stopped attempting fiction and stuck to her columns... Woah you actually gave this book 2 stars, she just got lucky. I woudnt rate it more than 1.

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    1. I actually liked the premise and some interesting lines, apart from that it was clearly a washout!

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  2. Okay I'm not going anywhere near this one. Sounds absolutely terrible. For the record, I didn't like her first book at all. Felt the writing was very amateurish.

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    1. Excellent choice, my dear. The first one, though amateurish, was witty was a refined sense of humor. Wonder what happened after that.

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  3. Oh dear God, those dialogues! SO cringe worthy..I couldn't even read them with a straight face. Ewww.

    And I agree I wouldn't have expected this from TK. I hope she gets her act right soon or simply sticks to non fiction.

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    1. Imagine the book being filled with them! She just needs to stick to her columns.

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  4. oh whoaaaaa! That is one brutal review but done in such a classy way. I have no idea about her writings as I dont follow/read her columns. I am a bit prejudiced against film fraternity when they decide to brandish their writing fetishes. They all talk a load of bull crap and this book sums it up. Seriously - why is Gay angle added everywhere since Karan Johar has stepped into the film world? What is with these dialogues? Ewwwww! And you read the whole book? Hats off to you Soumya!!!

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    1. Her columns were really good earlier and are still decent now, but this book was NOT!

      It gets easy for the film fraternity to publish books, I mean you are already famous, so the hype will sell! KJo dedication happens a lot in Twinkle's books, but this time it was so Ewww.

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  5. I just enjoy her columns once in while, haven't enjoyed much of her books. This one sounds so ridiculous!! And those lines.. #facepalm 😁

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    1. Atrocious is the word, my heroine! :D

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  6. You have saved me money and time. Before our conversation in Insta I was about to order the book. And after reading this book I am sure that I don't want to read this book. Those lines are a turn off.

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    1. I'm glad. Exactly why I rushed to do the review to save so many people!

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  7. Thanks for this, Soumya. I now know to avoid this--I was planning to check if I could download a sample on kindle.
    Damyanti

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    1. Please do not download anything with regards to this. Not even the sample. Totally not worth it.

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  8. Okay, not reading even when I get for free.The language is not what I would at all appreciate. Thank you for sharing! You know I trust your taste here.

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    1. No, no, no, I'm giving you the book and making you read it :P

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  9. I'm reading the book and I haven't read anything more flakier and oh so obnoxiously frivolous then this one. Just wrote a tiny review.

    https://natashamusing.com/2018/09/book-ed-and-hooked-mondaymusings-mondayblogs/

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    1. Tell me about it! Really crass. Just read your tiny review and nodded all along :)

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  10. Soumya! Love, love, love the review. I have the first two books and haven't been able to bring myself to read them and now your review nails it.
    Maybe she used a ghost writer or maybe she just lost interest.....
    I am definitely skipping this one.
    Thanks

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  11. I wasn't happy about her first book either. I liked it as a quick read, though I had to push myself a bit half way. That's when I decided I am not taking any of her books. Bang on Sou. Saved so many of us from ripping the book into pieces.

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    1. First book had some raw charm to it, that's why I liked it. The next two, well, the less spoken the better.

      Thank you, Jay <3

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  12. I am not happy about dragging Kerala into this non-read worthy book. I never got a chance to read her first book though it is in my wish list. Definitely not going read this book. Thanks for the detailed review, Soumya.

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    1. Oh I was pissed about that too. The Menon and Pillai reference as well as Thangam hospital annoyed the living day lights outa me.

      Skip this one.

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  13. Those lines that you shared, I wish I could unsee them. I think what I liked best about her were her columns. But of late even those are not either funny or witty. Sadly, I've seen that happen to a lot of folks who delve into humour. I think Ramya also said that the book was highly avoidable. I am definitely not reading it.

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    1. Me too, Rachna. Me too! I agree her columns we really good earlier, but now it has lost its charm as well. Her last one was about Frida Kahlo and was so vague.

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  14. Okay. So, I am not going anywhere near this one. I was really excited to know that her third book was out. But thanks to my sister's wedding, I didn't pre-order it. Looks like, I should definitely give this a miss. Such an honest review!

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