Title: My Lawfully Wedded Husband and Other Stories
Author: Madhulika Liddle
Publisher:Westland Limited (2012)Price: Rs. 250 Pages: 215
Genre : Fiction
Genre : Fiction
The First Impression
Madhulika Liddle, best known for her Muzaffar Jang Series, exhibits her exceptional story weaving capability in this delightful and thrilling short story collection, "My Lawfully Wedded Husband and other stories". Each of the stories are shaded with a coat of dark humour and the readers are thrown a red herring at the end of each one. It is a thrilling package, cover-to-cover!
A dozen stories, each of a different shade. Be it the office ghost in Silent Fear, the inquisitive and concerned young couple neighbours to Number 63, the artfully crafty government clerk Mr.George in St.George and the Dragon or Helen the prostitute in Hourie, all these characters have been carefully painted and detailed to perfection. The imagery created in each of the narratives is so vivid, that you feel it rolling in front of your eyes. This collection is a perfect example of how simple words can be used to weave magic.
The book opens with the story Sum Total, which is about a young lady who feels the best way to get rid of people she dislikes or finds a nuisance in her life, is to murder them. Though it ends in a slightly predictable fashion, it grips the reader till the end, undoubtedly.
The second story, A Tale of a Summer Vacation is the narration of a young girl who is visiting her grandmother in a picturesque town of Goa, and befriends two sisters, around whom the story revolves. Smartly narrated plot with a equally smart ending.
A Brief Lesson in Trust, the third story in the book, is where Geeti realizes that trusting the most reliable and practical girl from her school days, is a lost gamble she made. It leaves the readers pondering over "Whom should I trust".
Feet of Clay, the story next in line describes beautifully how a little girl hero-worshiped the bakery man who used to come to her gates each afternoon with his wares. Totally unexpected ending, which might leave the readers thoughtful for a while.
The next story, My Lawfully Wedded Husband, from which the book gets its title, is strategically placed as the fifth story and one of the best in the collection. Delightful writing style with a perfectly twisted ending.
Story number six is Number 63 which is about a inquisitive young couple trying to search for mystery in their neighbours' house. The story ends with its signature twist, but it came and ended a bit too abruptly. It might be a writers strategy to create the impact of the ending on readers, but I would have preferred a smoother impact curve rather than such a steep one!
On the Night Train is a witty tale about a young boy's night journey in an almost empty rail coach and it leaves you all in smiles. Another one in the must-reads list.
Hourie is one of the longest stories, but the narration about a girl called Hourie and her friends in a brothel is interesting enough to keep you glued till the end. This is one of those stories which was highly predictable despite the writer's efforts to keep the suspense unraveled till the end.
Silent Fear featuring the office ghost is another short and smart story with the theme of paranormal activity.
The tenth story, St.George and the Dragon is an interesting read where a government clerk who initially portrays the good man character, later using his cunning ways overpowers his corrupt boss.
The Crusader and The Howling Waves of Tranquebar are the last two of the collection and are completely opposite to each other. While the former one is slightly amateurish and highly predictable, the latter provides a perfect end to the collection with its vivid descriptions and mysterious aura.
Passing the Verdict
A crisp and interesting read for all short story lovers and aspiring short story writers. It definitely grabs a 3.5/5 from me.
About the Author
Madhulika Liddle is an Indian writer who writes in English. She is best known for her books featuring the 17th century Mughal detective Muzaffar Jang, although she is also a prolific writer of short fiction, travel writing, and writing related to classic cinema.
To read more about her and her works, you can refer here.