Tell a Thousand Lies by Rasana Atreya
Tell a Thousand Lies by Rasana Atreya is the first book that I read on my Kindle. So it would always remain special to me. I have known Rasana Atreya as the most successful self-published author in India. And her books have always had excellent reviews. So, as soon as I had my Kindle, I asked her for the review copy of her book. And the very next day it was there with me.
In the story of Tell a Thousand Lies, Rasana Atreya sets the story in Andhra Pradesh and Hyderabad. The place where the author lives and I also lived for some time. There are not many stories in this backdrop, at least not in English. The backdrop of a typical Andhra village and the journey of the protagonist from village to a city like Hyderabad is important. Besides playing an important role in the story, it is also a chronicle of the life in villages and cities in Andhra. There is ample dose of customs, rituals, superstitions, beliefs, and lifestyles that re-create the space and time of the people in these places for the reader.
The story for me started on a very high note – with two fraternal twins at its core. One dark-skinned, with an only ambition to be a wife and a mother. And the other fair skinned, with an ambition to be the doctor. Both in the age and time when daughters were treated as mere baggage by the families, to be offloaded by paying some dowry. They become pegs in the story of a politician and then the rest of the story is, hide and seek between the politician and the sisters. Who in course of time manage to swap their intended destinies.
I liked the first half of the story quite a bit – it brought out the naivety of a village girl as she settles down in a big city. Of accepting what she never dreamt of getting and the subtle message, that all that girls need is a little encouragement to bloom. However, towards the second half, it totally converts into a TV serial type of “push and pulls” between sisters. One being evil and selfish while the other being “Sati Savitri” and all sacrificing. This part is too stretched. Too far removed from reality and too much inspired by the TV drama. The end is of course as expected – all is well. The camaraderie between the girls and the grandmother is worth a mention. The kind you see among women who have no male members in their lives to fight for or fight with.
Language is simple, with lots of Telugu flavor – especially every time the God is invoked. There are a few recipes too, scattered here and there in the narrative that adds to the flavor of the story. The language keeps you pretty much in the nuances of the Andhra culture. Editing is better than what I have seen in books by most leading publishers. I do not recall any error in the text.
Overall, a very enjoyable tale…