Knowing I was still teetering on the edge of 80% reviewed status on NetGalley, I took my Kindle downstairs and opened this book to start reading over breakfast. Imagine my surprise as the percentage at the bottom of the page racked up – it only took me a little over an hour to read this very short novel. I know I read fast, but that makes it short even for me. This was one of a number of books I won back in June – I’m safely back at my decent percentage reviewed now and looking forward to winning my 100 books read badge when I’ve completed everything else on my bookshelf.

Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay – “The Aunt Who Wouldn’t Die”

(NetGalley, 25 June 2019)

A most peculiar novella, written in alternating chapters highlighting a woman and her daughter, which was pretty confusing as the daughter started her first chapter without having been introduced in her mother’s part of the book.

We see how things change for generations of women in a small North Bengal town. From a poor family herself, Somlata lives with her husband with his family, once rich, now fallen on hard times and living off selling their gold and land. Haunted by the ghost of her aunt-in-law, who whispers poison into her ears, and was a child bride, widowed at 12, Somlata is able to open a shop with her husband and use it to restore the family’s fortunes – the running of the shop and manipulation of her male relatives is fun to read. Her daughter rides a bicycle in the street and goes on a picnic with her schoolfriends and teachers.

The ghost is fun and the whole family set-up would be interesting but it just comes to a sudden screeching halt. Others have criticised the plain language; to me, that’s the language of R.K.Narayan and the like, but this would have so much more to give if it was just filled out a bit more and given more flesh on its bones.

I received this book via NetGalley from John Murray in return for an honest review.