Title: The Body Myth
Author: Rheea Mukherjee
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton- Penguin
The Body Myth is a powerful debut novel that talks about many things at once. It can be best described as a novel that brings together the acceptable and the non-acceptable, the normal and the abnormal, the knowable and the unknowable, the scientific and the philosophical, and the physical and the metaphysical. Intriguing plot, enigmatic characters and mind-stirring ideas, this novel carries it all in one.
Mira is a school teacher whose husband died just seven months after their marriage. Living on her own, she finds solace in reading the French philosophers. But her life takes a turn, when she finds a beautiful woman, Sara, having a seizure in a park. This one incident brings Mira into the lives of Sara and her husband, Rahil.
Sara suffers from a number of illnesses and soon Mira finds herself becoming an inextricable part of the couple. The three of them form a relationship that can’t be labelled just like Sara’s illness. Mira is determined to probe deep into Sara’s mysterious illness and understand the place that she now occupies in the life of this couple.
The novel covers a wide range of subjects, namely Sufism, Poetry, History, Philosophy, Western Science, Sexuality and Social Relations. Through these themes, the novel traces the evolution of the relationship of these three characters and their interaction with people in their lives. The author has to be commended not only for attempting to write on such diverse subjects but also for successfully tying them together to bring about a proper ending to the novel.
Mukherjee writes to the point and yet her words mean much more than what appears to the eyes. The ideas that she has presented in the book are fascinating and compelling. However, not every reader will be able to appreciate her ideas as well as her characters, both of which resist to be easily defined or simplified.
I mostly enjoyed the book but at times I did get restless, when it seemed a heavy read. This is certainly not a book for everyone. But if you get to appreciate it, then you’ll enjoy it immensely.
My Rating: **** (4/5)
What do you think about this book? The premise sounds interesting, doesn’t it? Have your read any of the French philosophers? Do share your thoughts. Thanks.
*I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. Views expressed are entirely personal and unbiased.*