by Diksha Basu
The main focus of “The Windfall” is about Mr and Mrs. Jha. The Jha’s suddenly come into a lot of money due to a great idea that Mr. Jha has for an online service. He is able to sell it for millions and it results in his family suddenly having more money than they are used to. They decide to move into a different neighborhood as a result. Money doesn’t buy happiness though and when you have it you still have to compare yourself to your neighbors right? The book centers on their struggles from leaving their old neighborhood to interacting with their new neighbors as well.
There is a growing market in India for stories of “new wealth” in the modern age and this story really fits into that specific world of fiction. The story, as discussed above, centers on Mr. and Mrs. Jha and also their son. Rupak. Much of the book centers on them leaving a neighborhood that they have lived in for most of their lives. This part of the book dragged on for me. I wanted to meet the new neighbors that they were going to be interacting with a bit earlier than what was done here, but while it dragged I felt that this did not make the book undesirable to read. Some books are just harder to get through, but still enjoyable to read through dry or dragging parts. This is one of those books for me.
There are some wonderful moments contained within this book. The subplots, in my humble opinion, are much better than the central Mr. and Mrs. Jha plotline. The two main sub-plots are a character named Mrs. Ray and a romance she gets in and a plot with the son Rupak trying to discover himself as a human being and as a person that is Indian. I was very partial to all the moments featuring Mrs. Ray. I found myself reading more voraciously through the parts that included her. Sometimes I would get frustrated when her parts ended even. I would be like “WHY WHY CAN’T I HAVE MORE OF THIS.” I think Basu would make an excellent romantic novelist based on the little bit that is contained within these pages, if she ever needs to change to a new genre I would definitely sign-up to read it! The Rupak sub-plot also dragged a little bit, but this was largely because I could not identify with this particular character, which is strange given the existential crisis that he was going through most of the book. I think most other people would enjoy this sub-plot more than I did and I am definitely taking that into account in writing this review.
The central story, while it dragged, felt like it was very well-written by Basu. She served her characters well and created a believable world for them to play in. Most of the moments play well off of each other and there is no moment (except at the climax) that really seems out of place. The moment of the climax, without spoiling it, was the singular moment where I thought the pace of the book was going to pick up and be something different. It, however, did not deliver. This was my only disappointment with this book. There did not seem to be a payoff for the climax of the book and what occurs. The next chapter starts literally several weeks after this incident that occurs. This felt like cheap storytelling on Basu’s part and was the only moment in her writing where I got a little frustrated with her. Every other moment I saw it as building the audience towards an understanding of staying true to yourself, even if you obtain money. It was a beautiful message that got lost a little in that climax and its lack of being followed through.
Since I do not give ratings to the books I review I want to make it very clear that this is a book I would recommend to others. There were moments where I complained to my partner about this book, which is because this book honestly has moments where you will feel like nothing is going on. This is part of life though. Readers are conditioned for bigger and more dramatic moments in their books. They are less prepared for a book that actually deals with modern everyday life. This book explores that for one Indian family. This is what makes it a worthwhile read, but understand that it will take awhile to get through this book. It will make you frustrated at times! The truth of the book though is that it is enjoyable and one I can see people liking. If you understand this you will be able to push through it and get to the end. I believe getting to the end of this book is worth it.
I would not recommend this to someone that who does not want to read literary fiction because it, in my opinion, shares more with that genre than any other. It is labeled as Women’s Fiction, but it does not seem to fit into that genre really for me. It really fits more into the growing genre of Indian books about the changing caste system in that culture. There may be a specific name for it, but I am unaware of it. It is a bit heavy-handed on its discussion of comparing lives with others, so if this is not your thing then this would not be a book for you to read. This book also would not be for you if you do not have a desire to learn about another culture and are looking for a more “fun” or “trashy” read (i.e. a summer beach book this is not).
I would recommend this book to any individual that is wanting to see how the Indian caste system is changing and evolving thanks to the internet. This explores that and Indian identity through Rupak’s story in a very humanistic way that any reader, regardless of culture, will be able to enjoy. If you are interesting in changing socioeconomic statuses work this book explores that for the Jhas as well. If you like romantic undertones as well the Mrs. Ray storyline will make you smile. I don’t even like romance and it made me happy!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I received my copy of “The Windfall” from “Books for Blogging” in exchange for an honest review. Anyone who knows me knows that this will not influence my discussion of the book because well I believe in honesty in letting others know if they will or will not enjoy a particular book. Any less is simply unacceptable!