A Hundred Little Flames by Preeti Shenoy
Released: November 11th 2017
Publisher: Westland Books
When 26-year-old Ayan is sent to live with his grumpy old grandfather Gopal Shanker, in a tiny village, in Kerala, he is understandably devastated. What can a sleepy, idyllic village without even Internet connectivity offer a young man?
To make matters worse, Jairaj, Ayan’s domineering father has his own plans and is determined to have his way. Soon, Ayan has to come to terms with the hard realities of life and the blindness of greed as he and Gopal Shanker learn that life can sometimes unravel in unanticipated ways.
A young man, whose life lies ahead of him. An old man, whose life is all in the past. And a few months that change everything. A Hundred Little Flames is a charming account of a relationship across generations and also a meditative look at the issues of old people.
This is the third book of Preeti Shenoy’s that I have read, and it did not disappoint! I feel that Preeti Shenoy is one of those authors who writes relationships really well. Her style of writing is very fluid and easy to read, and she dwells into human relationships in such a manner that the reader can effortlessly relate and root for her main characters.
What I liked about “A Hundred Little Flames” is the message it conveys on how important it is to work hard to build trust to understand one another and develop a strong relationship without giving up easily. In our ever changing world where social media and mobile apps have become an integral part of our lives, by giving us so much freedom and accessibility to choose a product or a partner with a swipe of the screen, it also has a downside in that people give up easily on others if they find a fault in them, as they have numerous other options to find someone new. So, reading this book felt like a breath of fresh air to remind us that while these technological advancements might be good in some ways, the human bond and the way we personally interact with others and dedicate time to spend with friends and family is truly what matters.
There were some minor parts in the book which I felt could be easily removed. For instance, I felt the author was trying to shove the fact that what Gopal Shankar had Rohini was pure. While the story speaks for itself and the reader feels how special their story is by reading the events, I didn’t feel the need for the author to explicitly mention how special it was (via Ayan’s thoughts) across every other page. Also, I didn’t care much for the scenes between Ayan and Shivani as I thought they were unnecessary (because I wanted to read more about Gopal Shankar’s life) but I understood that the author included these details to show how impatient we have become in trying to build our relationships with people and how we tend to give in more to our physical pleasures than emotional bonds. Another thing that slight disappointed me about this story was how the ‘villains’ didn’t get their comeuppance.
Coming back to the positives, the story itself is written in a beautiful manner of four parts, each focusing on a different timeline of Ayan and his grandfather’s life. Apart from the storyline, the author has pleasingly depicted the majestic beauty of Kerala and its culture. On finishing this book, not only do I want to go back to the ideal village landscape of South India, but I am also motivated to start my own journal entries as a hobby. The main characters Ayan and Gopal Shankar are delightful to read, and the author has nicely portrayed the mindset and behavior of these two characters from two different generations.
Overall, this is a lovely book to read, and definitely one of my favorites by the author.