My reaction to The Aunt Who Wouldn’t Die almost made me do a mini-review and give you another today to catch up on my reading. But the more I try to explain how I felt about said Aunt, the longer the post gets. See what you think.
Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read the book. I apologise for not enjoying it more.
by Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay
At eighteen, Somlata married into the Mitras: a once noble Bengali household whose descendants have taken to pawning off the family gold to keep up appearances.
When Pishima, the embittered matriarch, dies, Somlata is the first to discover her aunt-in-law’s body – and her sharp-tongued ghost.
First demanding that Somlata hide her gold from the family’s prying hands, Pishima’s ghost continues to wreak havoc on the Mitras. Secrets spilt, cooking spoilt, Somlata finds herself at the centre of the chaos. And as the family teeter on the brink of bankruptcy, it looks like it’s up to her to fix it.
The Aunt Who Wouldn’t Die is a frenetic, funny and fresh novel about three generations of Mitra women, a jewellery box, and the rickety family they hold together. [Netgalley]
It’s interesting, how I liked the look of the blurb on Netgalley. I now look at the blurb on Goodreads and think, well, maybe I shouldn’t have picked it.
Is Roshomoyee actually dead? What does she want from Somlata? Who is Boshon, really? And what does the jewellery box have to do with all of this?
After reading the book, I cannot answer any of these questions. Maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention.
I gave one of my instant reviews on Goodreads, which doesn’t really reveal how disappointed I was with the book as a whole. It was an enjoyable read, but I frequently didn’t know who was who or what was going on. When I did, I liked it.
My Goodreads review goes like this:
As I’m easily confused by extended families, it would be easy to put my confusion over this book down to the intricacies of the family the main protagonist marries into.
But I fear that it’s actually down to the structure of the book, which shifts abruptly from one set of people to another, then back again, without any clarity of the relationship between them. I’m not entirely sure what we gain from the adventure we switch to, since it could easily be handled later in the book when that character appears again. That way the shift between names/titles and nicknames wouldn’t be as much of a memory test for the reader.
I was disappointed that the undead aunt didn’t play any part later in the book, except as a memory. Maybe I was hoping for more.
It’s a nice story, with plenty of colour and family intrigue. Other readers will probably enjoy it more.
It seems that other readers do enjoy it more, and particularly the way Somlata manages her marriage to the rich idiot she’s been joined with. It was a lovely insight into Bengali culture, and I enjoyed a lot of the book. It’s very short, and I read it in one sitting, even rereading bits. The writing (and translation) was very good. I just found it confusing.