For me, there have been two types of books- ones that are remembered for its brilliant story line and the ones that are remembered for the beautiful narration and language, even thought the story may not be one where there are a lot of twist and turns. Seeing the girl belongs to the latter category.
From the book cover: Seeing the girl is the story of three women who live inside one another's lives dangerously. Janaki is poised to enter into a conventional 'arranged marriage' when unanticipated events break out. A marriage takes place; a daughter is exiled from the sanctuary of her home while the other struggles to build a life. Then someone dies, caught in the vindictive shadow-play of life and secrets that must stay buried.
Janaki narrates this dark and intricate story, pausing to let Amma and Leela too interweave their versions of the truth. Yet the story never ends: the survivors are merely tired victims who must outlive every fatal tragedy.
My take: The novel is narrated in the first person by Janaki or Janu, as she is called, the protagonist. Her mother and sister- Leela are given a chance to tell their side of the story as well. What I loved about the book is its beautiful and lyrical prose that the author has used. Sprinkled with the right dose of Malayalam words that are essential to the crux of the story, many a time, I felt that it was woven together like a poem.
The reason could be that the author herself has confessed to poetry being her first love. It is evident from the way she narrates and being her debut novel, it certainly calls for a loud cheer. Her writing reminded me of Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, a personal favorite author. The story even reminded me of her 'Sister of my heart'. Though both books talk about the relationship between sisters, Anuradha dwells into the darker corners of their thoughts and secrets.
When Rohit, the boy who had come 'to see' Janaki, eventually gets married to Leela, it sets about a turn of events for which there are grave consequences. Also playing an important role in the story is Chitra-Kunjamma, her father's first cousin.
The book is not too long (290 pages) and I was finished with it in a few days. I loved how the story had started off, but felt it was a bit dragging towards the middle. Like I mentioned before, it is not a book which actually moves forward with a lot of twist and turns. It gives us insights into the female mind - the love and the destruction that a woman is capable of.
I would give this one a three stars on five. Being from Kerala, I could relate to a lot in the story- the stereotypes that a woman is often subjected to, the decisions that she is forced to make. I also loved Janaki, with all her faults and fears. This is one book which has to be read patiently. Give it a read if you are prepared to do so!