Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Other Side of the Table by Madhumita Mukherjee - A Review

I am not a great fan of epistolary novels. I like it when letters are interspersed in the main narrative, like was the case with Monica Ali's Brick Lane, which I happened to read recently. However, an entire book made out of letters never sounded like an interesting prospect to me. How much about the story can letters unravel? I always had my skepticism, but today, I have been proven wrong in a beautiful manner.

The Other Side of the Table by Madhumita Mukherjee is a collection of letters exchanged between two
people separated by miles, spread over a decade. These two people are Abhi, a neurosurgeon in London, and Uma, a fresh medical student. These two people belong to two diverse continents, two separate cultures, even different age groups, but in these letters, they come close together, as if their worlds were not as distant as they physically seemed. Their letters are spaced over wide gaps of time, but they always carry a commitment that another would come. Abhi and Uma's ink dries onto paper to carry tales of a first crush, a heartbreak, a difficult marriage, a sad professional event, domestic experiences, ill-healths - most of all, these letters can be seen as the conversations of two beating hearts with each other.

This book pleasantly surprised me. The cover had a slightly dreamy look about it, and I ventured ahead expecting a light love story. However, that, precisely this book is not. This book is about a bond shared by people for whom time and space is a secondary concern. The letters written by either protagonist are vivid, and as a reader, you easily find yourself following the lives of Abhi and Uma closely, together and in isolation. These letters also contain with them a myriad of emotions - they are not mushy each time you read them. They convey elation, or sadness, or distress, or confusion lucidly. They carry hurt, as well as attachment. They carry trust. Above all, they carry commitment. And in a decade, they reveal a story which is simple, but rich with feelings. In this book, you can perceive two lives growing and changing. One of the best things about this book for me is the subtly. There is no overt melodrama, yet you will feel a lingering feeling of poignancy deep inside your heart once you are done with it. This book weaves your emotions into the plot, as it takes you on a journey where you discover a different kind of friendship, with its unique magic.

I could not have asked for a better book to read after my examinations. It is breezy, light and not very bulky. Yes, it contains letters spanning a decade, but they are followed at interval of months at a stretch. At least once while reading this book, you will wish you had that one pen-friend, who would just listen to each thing you had to say, the way you said it and who promised to always lurk there for you. For all the nice moments this book gave me, I think I would like to award it 3.5 stars on 5.

Book Details
Author - Madhumita Mukherjee
Publisher - Fingerprint
Published - 2012
Book Source - Review Copy
Genre - Epistolary/Romance
Price - Rs. 195
Pages - 240


  1. What is a good book?
    A good book, in my accordance is something which justifies the character. Or in other words, the characters get what they want. Or if not that, then they at least struggle for it till last. Aren't we supposed to look up to them? Should they not be inspiring?
    But beyond that, a good book is something which keeps you glued to it. Maybe you want to postpone your dinner for it or your urgent washroom visits.
    For me, the book did both. Also, it has replenished my soul with hopes that I can restart my search for love, dreams, friendship anytime and from anywhere.
    I thank both Saumya di and Ms. Mukherjee for contenting me to the utmost possible.

    1. I think you overshadowed my review by the glorious words you have spared on the book. I have to admit, you words make me want to reunite with my book, and sift through it once more. I think I will thank Fingerprint for sending across to me a copy of the book. It was indeed a wonderful, heartwarming read.