A woman’s world
The payoff of my having spent years as a backpacker and visiting over 50 countries is that I remember them all, some more vividly than others. That gives me an advantage when reviewing the books and movies set in one or more of them, over those who remained at home. Yes, I know that area. No, it’s just a set or a bit of poetic license.
Not that there’s anything wrong with imagination. It’s expected of authors and scriptwriters. For me, the US: check. The UK: check. Continental Europe: check. India: check. Hong Kong: check, etc. Sites. Peoples. Experiences. Teaching English journalism. A family.
Reading The Cappuccino Chronicles by Pashmina P., my first reaction was been there, done that. My second reaction was been there, didn’t do that. It’s a story about women by a woman. Sitting in their favourite Lebanese coffee shop in London, the siblings and best friends find that happiness, fame and fortune are to be found abroad.
Indian backgrounds are their greatest obstacle. Two sisters in San Francisco stifled by the traditional ways of their tyrannical wife-beating father. American and Indian culture are incompatible. The family splits up.
Another lass hooks an oil prince. Apart from sex, he tunes her out. Throwing money at her, he couldn’t care less about what she thinks. She takes up the pen, eats exotic foods until she becomes obese. The women do a lot of giggling, sobbing, giving one another advice on the internet. Nothing spiritual or profound.
One becomes a successful fashion designer in Hong Kong. Years pass. She wants to leave. Her boyfriend doesn’t. Mum calls. How about India? The males are two-dimensional. An invalid (a wimp). A Caribbean musician is the only pleasant guy in the book, but marrying a black man isn’t done.
One of the women dies of cancer. With her eulogy and a wedding, the plot winds down. The Indian novels I’ve read to date have been much too long. At under 300 pages, this book says all it has to say without padding. She lacks the finesse of a first-class writer like Danielle Steel, who has cornered the market in girls growing up, yet she keeps you turning the page. She would do well to give men some credit.
The Cappuccino Chronicles By Pashmina P Hasmark 249pp Available at Asia Books and leading bookshops