4 out of 4 stars
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A Nest for Lalita by Ken Langer is a novel set in India that occurs principally between 2005 and 2006. Lalita was a young woman who, like many others in that country, was murdered by her husband who doused her with kerosene and tossed her a lit match. The story presented by Langer has Meena Kaul as the main character; she is a modern professional woman and executive director of Behera House, an institution belonging to the Behera Group, which is the country’s third-largest industrial house.
Meena is promoting a project to build a community center for the care of women who survives domestic violence. Madhav Behera, president of Behera Group, has guaranteed the resources to fund the design phase and half the construction costs of the community center in Sompur. In addition, Madhav reaches an agreement with the Hindu Democratic Party HDP to bestow a grant to fund the rest of the construction. Madhav decides to hire an elite Western architect to design the center. This is how Simon Bliss comes into action.
Kesh Narayan is Meena's husband; he has gained a name as an inveterate environmentalist. Indeed, he is fostering the mandatory implementation of a certification system even stricter than the LEED system for all buildings to be built in India. The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification stipulates regulations on the use of efficient air conditioners and other aspects that seek to make constructions more ecological.
The HDP has come to power and appears to possess dark interests in awarding the grant for the construction of the community center. Meena wants to complete the construction of the center but does not want to get involved with the HDP so as not to affect her reputation. The relationship between Kesh and Meena is not the best since they had to move to Sompur leaving New Delhi behind. When Simon arrives, he is attracted to Meena. With this scenario, several expectations are aroused: Will the community center be built and inaugurated? Will Kesh implement his strict certification system or will the affected large companies prevent it? What will happen between Meena and Simon?
The book is properly organized into chapters, each specifying the place and date. The narrative is in the third-person perspective. The author includes several well-developed characters perfectly inserted into the story. In general, the plotline unfolds with consistency and keeps the reader attentive through intriguing facts. The dialogues are credible and appropriate according to the situations and each of the characters.
It is evident the author is an expert in Hindu culture, so he resorts to many descriptions and aspects related to it. For example, the horrendous practice of sati, which consists of women throwing themselves onto the pyre containing the mortal remains of their husbands. I found all the subjects associated with Hindu culture interesting and pedagogical. The aspects that most caught my attention are the diverse beliefs associated with gods and goddesses and the country’s ancient social structure; these define different castes or social levels. It produces an odd feeling of wanting to know a little more about this country, its people, and its ancient beliefs and traditions.
What I liked the most is the masterful mixture that the author achieved in the novel by blending Hindu culture with romance, crime, and political intrigue. In addition, there are criticisms regarding social problems like the mistreatment of women and political corruption. The novel is entertaining since it includes witty twists. The insertion of a shocking crime increases the reader's curiosity for wanting to discover the perpetrator and the motive.
There was nothing I disliked about this work. The writing style is proper with the genre of the book. I found it interesting to know about Hindu culture. The novel maintains expectations and intrigues about various situations associated with the construction of the community center. There are various Hindu expressions and rare names, however, they do not affect the flow of the reading. The editing is professional as I only observed a few minor typos. For all that said, I rate A Nest for Lalita with four out of four stars. It is unsuitable for a youthful audience as it contains harsh themes like domestic violence and prostitution. I recommend this novel to those who like the topics associated with Hindu culture spiced with romance, crime, and political intrigue.
A Nest for Lalita
A Nest for Lalita
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