When I first read the title of this book, it seemed to be an existential comment on human nature. After all, we are all into the habit of falling in love. However, reading through this short story collection by Namita Gokhale has proved my first intuition wrong. I can gladly declare in my book review that, there is nothing existential about this book. It is a collection of short stories that talks about women who are winners!
The Habit Of Love is not a novel; it is a collection of short stories about the modern and urban Indian women. Now, you would naturally expect stories about our modern lives to be full of depressive stuff. But it isn't. It is about the chaos and confusion of our modern lives but with a positive end.
What amazed me most while doing this book review was the fact that, every story in this collection has a happy ending. All the characters are female and everyone of them learns to cope with their grief, loneliness or guilt in their own unique way. The moral behind the stories is about accepting pain and then, crossing over it.
The first few stories deal with grief. Grief of losing the love of your life, of children growing up and moving away. Then comes guilt; the guilt we women feel about our own sexuality or inadequacies (the inability to bear children being a major one). How hurt we feel when we cannot 'fit in' to a society that has set standards of beauty, humour and even greif. It is amusingly depicted in The Day Princess Diana Died, which is my personal favourite.
History resonates in The Habit Of Love, as is the case with most Namita Gokhale novels. Ancient historical characters like Kunti, Mumtaz and Damyanti are skillfully woven into the lives of modern women. It shows us how far we have come and also how things have not changed at all. The writer is at her best when dealing with historical fiction or 'magic realism' as we call it these day.
The Habit Of Love by celebrated Indian author Namita Gokhale has been published by Penguin India. Her previous novels like Paro and Shakuntala too have come out through Penguin India. I would conclude my book review by saying that you must read 'The Habit Of Love' so that it does not become a bad habit!