Book Review: A Hundred Little Flames by Preeti Shenoy

Book Name: A Hundred Little Flames

Author: Preeti Shenoy

Publisher: Westland Publications

Rating: 5/5

Book Blurb: When 26-year-old Ayan is sent to live with his grumpy old grandfather Gopal Shanker, in a tiny village, in Kerala, he is understandably devastated. What can a sleepy, idyllic village without even Internet connectivity offer a young man?

To make matters worse, Jairaj, Ayan’s domineering father has his own plans and is determined to have his way. Soon, Ayan has to come to terms with the hard realities of life and the blindness of greed as he and Gopal Shanker learn that life can sometimes unravel in unanticipated ways.

A young man, whose life lies ahead of him. An old man, whose life is all in the past. And a few months that change everything. A Hundred Little Flames is a charming account of a relationship across generations and also a meditative look at the issues of old people.

Preeti Shenoy’s foray into new fictional terrain is an absolute triumph!

Review: The story is simple and revolves around the protagonist Ayan whose life gets thrown into turmoil after an unfortunate incident at a party he attends due to peer pressure. With no job and little prospects, he shifts to Kerala where a family secret leads him towards discovering a treasure trove that results in an unexpected journey.

The story is told in simple narrative and makes for a heart-wrenching read. This book is a roller coaster ride of emotions and the author plays around expertly with modern relationships and the contrast between love and relationship between the older generation. It is a book full of life lessons and is a great narrative on relationship, love and generational gap.

The passive narrative works wonders for this wonderful tale. The ending is apt and leaves the reader satisfied. Ayan’s life lessons and learning is complete by the time the book is finished and the reader will also get a few lessons on relationships from this book.

Sample this:

‘I don’t know about ‘deserving love’, but I think it is important to be with people who make us feel good, make us feel loved. Don’t you think so?’

There is no over the top emotional turmoil or explosive action but the story is explored through emotions and delves on why it’s important to value relationships. Writing such a book would have required a significant amount of research and the author doesn’t let the reader down. The book is well structured and almost all characters are fully explored. The play between two diverse generations and their expectations from life makes for an interesting read.

All relationships do not need to culminate in the physical expression of love. The emotional attachment is as important as explained in the text:

Ayan thought about how Rohini and his grandfather had not even held hands, never kissed. It was clear from the entries that they were deeply in love. He thought about how different his grandfather’s generation was, when compared to his own.

It is only when we lose everything, when the last flicker of hope dies- it is then that the stronger character survives. There are always two choices before us in an adverse situation. One is to give up and despair and second is to find a purpose in life, do something meaningful and wait for the tide to turn favorable. This is what the protagonist does and comes out wiser and more mature at the end.

If a book can leave a reader thinking and stays with you long after you’ve read it, the author has done his/her job well. A Hundred Little Flames is one gem of a novel that manages to hold the attention of its reader’s throughout. A sequel perhaps with a play on other characters wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

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