As the story progresses, you find yourself rooting for Veda, a quintessentially, small town Indian girl of the ’90s, who gives up on her dreams to fulfill her parents’ wishes. At the end, she writes to her sister, that she may have lost the love of her life, but has found herself!
A realistic story well written is what we tell Preeti Shenoy, author of The Rule Breakers. Shenoy agrees and says, “I am satisfied with the book. The Rule Breakers was a difficult book to write. It took me five drafts. There’s so much happening in the book. There’s the danger of the subplot taking over the main plot, but we managed.”
Published by Westland, it is Shenoy’s 11th book, and already a sequel is brewing in the author’s head. At the moment, however, she is basking in the praise of the early reviews for the book. In Pune to launch her latest work, Shenoy explains that the story of Veda resonated with many women. She read out one message from her reader: ‘Veda is so like millions of girls in India, who have no control over their lives. My neighbour in Dubai is a young girl from Uttar Pradesh, who has told me stories about how she was tortured by her mother-in-law. I can place Veda there’.
“The story of Veda reflects the reality of many women. This is a woman’s liberation story, told against the backdrop of Veda’s marriage,” adds Shenoy.
The writer of The Secret Wish List, Life is What You Make it and Tea for Two and a Piece of Cake, believes in being true to her craft, researching her stories, writing daily for her blog and connecting with her readers. “For this novel, I did a survey on my timeline. I asked this question, ‘If your parents found a partner for you, would you get married before the age of 25?’ Eighty-five per cent responded, ‘If the person is nice, I will say ‘yes’. My next question was, ‘If you married early, would you regret it?’ Sixty five per cent responded in the affirmative. Indian youth are family oriented and do not want to displease their parents. But at the same time, they want their own lives. This was one thing that helped me grow the story,” she points out.
Shenoy also asked her readers to share anonymously their ‘mother-in-law from hell’ stories and got a good response. “People from India, United Kingdom shared their stories. It became clear to me that if you don’t stand up for yourself, then you will be bullied. This is across all cultures. In a marriage, you are bound to one person for life. And, as the days go by, a slight imbalance in power occurs. This imbalance in power is what I have tried to portray,” adds the author.
Along with the imbalance in relationship, Shenoy also sought to emphasise the point, ‘You don’t need anyone to make you happy. You only need yourself. Most romance books by young authors follow the predictable plot — boy meets girl, he follows girl, there is some villain, but eventually the boy and girl get together and everyone is happy. But this is not how it happens every time. When people get married and move to a different city, close friends grow apart. This is what happens to Veda and Suraj. If I had got them together, it would have been very filmy.”
Amongst a couple of subplots running through the book, Shenoy is happy that she could write about sibling bond. “I miss having a sister. I have a brother. All my heart’s longing for a sister, I put in this relationship with Veda and Vidya. Even when sisters get married, they continue to be close. That’s what I tried to portray in this book,” she says. Which brings us to ‘sisterhood’ and Shenoy exclaims that she is all for it, in a big way. “I studied in a co-ed school and went to an all-women’s college. I realised that this decision helped me grow. When you are in a co-ed college, the more difficult tasks will be given to boys. But in an all-women’s college, when you have activities or tasks to perform, it was all done by us. We learnt to come forward and share the mantle,” she says.
One last question on what makes a person bold has the author listing the following — a bold person is someone who has the courage to stand up for what they believe in. They are kind and considerate to others. If it requires sacrifice, they sacrifice. But they don’t burn themselves sacrificing.