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Book Review: The Other Side of the Table by Madhumita Mukherjee

Title: The Other Side of the Table
Author: Madhumita Mukherjee
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Fingerprint (January 18th 2013)
Genre: Epistolary
Read: Paperback
Stars: **/5
Buy On: Amazon | FlipKart
Summary: (Goodreads)
Circa 1990.
A world drawn and woven with words.
A bond punctuated by absence and distance…
Two continents. Two cities. Two people.
And letters. Hundreds of them.
Over years. Across oceans. Between hearts.
Between Abhi, who is training to be a neurosurgeon in London, and Uma, who is just stepping into the world of medicine in Kolkata.
As they ink their emotions onto paper, their lives get chronicled in this subtly nuanced conversation through letters … letters about dreams, desires, heartbreaks, and longings… about a proverbial good life falling apart, about a failed marriage, a visceral loss, and about a dream that threatens social expectations…
Letters that talk. And don’t. Letters about this and that. Letters about everything…
Letters with a story you would never expect.

My Review:

Note: Thanks to the guys at MySmartPrice for offering me this book to review :)

Cover: Simple and soothing on the eyes.

Paper and font: White paper and smelt like a text book! :(

Readability, language: : The language was simple but the font and print could have been much better.

Why did I choose this book: The blurb had sounded interesting…

Some books you wonder why you read but then are happy you read it. This was one of those. When I picked up the book I had very different expectations of it. The blurb had set me up to expect some action, drama or mystery and I kept looking for it all through the book, didn’t find it at all and that did have me disappointed. That said the story kept me engaged through the book.

The Other Side of the Table is a collection of letters between Abhi in London who is training to be a neurosurgeon and Uma who is studying to be a doctor in Kolkata. Living in different worlds they have very different experiences in the field of medicine. They share their experiences, joys, disappointments, challenges and more through letters as the years roll by.

Uma as a girl trying to follow her dream in India can be related to easily. The challenges she faces at home, in society and at work are things most women experience in India at sometime or another. Her fighting spirit is something I associated with and felt for as she fought for what she wanted.

Abhi on the other hand is recognisable as the guy who leaves India with nothing to come back to but still misses his birth country and makes up the deficit by having more Indian friends around him. When he has trouble they help him out the most, though Abhi does have one non-Indian friend who also helps, so maybe he has mixed into new culture a fair bit.

Taking place in two countries far away from each other, the setting is perfect as a comparison between the lives of doctors and the study of medicine in both countries. The things that are common and so different too. Mukherjee makes all the appropriate references to seasons, festivals and holidays in both countries.

The book is written as letters and that helps overall but the letters were a bit dry and weirdly formal. I also think there were too many happy new years…

I enjoyed the medicine and doctor speak in the book. The peek into the lives of medical students and doctors was revealing enough to keep me reading the entire book. However I think for someone who isn’t very into medicine this might get a bit boring.

Given an option I would have added more drama and maybe even a sinister twist to the story. This was too tame and slow.

If you are looking for a slow, simple, not very complicated medical read, this book would be good as a one time read…

Buy On: Amazon | FlipKart

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