Secrets & Lies by Jaishree Misra
The book Secrets & Lies by a prominent Indian author Jaishree Misra amongst many other things, is a poignant take of the two contrasting lifestyles of women: one as a powerful ambitious woman, a woman of the world and the other of a housewife struggling to find her own place in her own home. The book features four such women; Anita, who works for BBC; Bubbles, who is the wife of the billionaire business tycoon and has anything but love and respect at the click of her fingers; Zeba, who is a leading Bollywood diva and Samira, who is trying to keep her marriage from tearing at the seems. These four women who are so different from each other share a common childhood of growing up in Delhi in one of the most prestigious all-girls convent school, St. Jude’s. However, they share more than a common school, a disturbing secret of the death of their classmate Lily D’Souza who also happened to be a relative of their much respected and beloved principal Ms Victoria Lamb. Fifteen years after the incident, the four old school friends are brought together when they receive a letter from their now retiring school principal for an invite to the school reunion and her last desire to see her girls before retiring. Shocked by the letter as the four friends contemplate whether to attend the reunion or not, each one of them goes into the past and events which led to the death of Lily and how the horrifying incidence has shaped their life, affecting it more than they ever could have realized.
The book runs parallel between the era of the year 1993, describing the events that led up to Lily’s death and the present day 2008, describing how the four friends are handling their life ridden with guilt and regret. The book drives home a nostalgic feeling of the days of the familiarity of the convent schooling and this was the reason I personally loved it. The author has very delicately and passionately shaped the different lifestyles and feelings of the characters in a beautiful manner. The way she has woven together the contrasting lifestyles but the strong bond of friendship that binds them together is commendable. One of the best parts of the book is that it portrays the Indian woman, working or non- working, as a strong woman independent of the need of her husband’s affection and respect when none is given. I love how the characters grow to become an ideal image of that. This book is a benchmark in Indian fiction and I’m waiting for some more marvelous works from the author.