23 November, 2020

Mirror Has Two Faces

Proof of a maturing oeuvre

Mirror Has Two Faces
Over the years, Shashi Deshpande has built up a sizeable, many would say significant, corpus. But with one book following rather uninnovatively on the other, and particularly with her last book A Matter of Time published four years ago, Deshpande seemed in danger of making a literary ghetto of marital estrangements and women's inner lives.

Wonderfully, her new novel, Small Remedies has released her from that limiting stockade. Much more emotionally complex and structurally sophisticated than her earlier work, Small Remedies raises Deshpande's corpus to a new, more mature creative notch. The prose, sadly, still smacks of the pedestrian but the narrative surge is urgent, almost compelling. Her habitual, unidimensional men of straw have been replaced by more full-bodied and complex male characters. Her women are less emotionally mingy. And though the idea of loss and estrangement, particularly marital estrangement, continues to occupy emotional centrespace, it's now convincingly counterpointed by a range of more robust and intimate relationships....



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