Book Review: The Unforgettable Woman by Pankaj Giri

“The Unforgettable Woman” by Pankaj Giri is a remarkable story of love, regret, redemption, and complex human relationships set against the picturesque landscape of Sikkim. With its captivating plot and compelling characters, the novel offers great insights into intricate relationships. The sympathetic Dr. Adarsh, the young teacher Smriti, and the outspoken woman Savitri are the main protagonists in this character-driven tale.

It is impossible to miss Giri’s storytelling prowess as it shines through in the narration. He reveals the intertwined destinies of the characters through alternating periods and POVs. I particularly liked the skillful usage of a third-person limited POV as it gave the narrative a fascinating dimension.  

While Adarsh, Smriti, and Savitri are at the heart of this novel, my personal favourite is Savitri. She stands out as a beacon of strength. The author has depicted her resilience and unfaltering spirit with great depth. Although Adarsh and Smriti are also complex characters, there are occasional shortcomings in their development. 

It is commendable that Giri has paid meticulous attention to the secondary characters and ensures they contribute meaningfully to the narrative tapestry. The varied characters are tied together neatly and the resolution of the story is quite satisfactory. 

This novel explores varied kinds of human relationships and themes, thereby adding immense depth and richness to the storytelling. Giri deftly navigates the complexities of human interactions, from the unconventional bond between a doctor and patient to the relationship between a mother and her daughter, and a sibling-like connection between strangers. 

I enjoyed the visual imagery of the landscape and was transported to the beautiful lands of Sikkim. Kudos to the author for the detailed mention of Nepali customs, traditions, and rituals. The vernacular bits made the narration more authentic. 

However, “The Unforgettable Woman” is not without its flaws. The occasional clunkiness in language and pacing as well as moments of intrigue often followed by periods of sluggishness, are disappointing. Additionally, while the central plotlines hold promise, the subplots sometimes lack depth and fail to deliver satisfying resolutions. 

While I enjoyed the picturesque landscape of Sikkim, it felt superficial at times. 

Also, I felt that the characters of Adarsh and Smriti were underdeveloped. I found it difficult to fully connect with their struggles and triumphs. Their emotions occasionally felt forced, preventing me from empathizing with the authenticity of their experiences. 

The novel’s themes, while poignant, are quite predictable and bordering on melodrama. Often, the narration fails to offer fresh insights and results in stagnation. The mystery element wasn’t mysterious enough, and I figured out most of the secret quite early on.  

“The Unforgettable Woman” balances moments of brilliance with occasional missteps. While its captivating plot, compelling characters, and evocative prose offer moments of genuine insight and beauty, its inconsistent pacing, underdeveloped characters, and predictable themes prevent it from reaching its full potential. Despite its flaws, readers who appreciate nuanced storytelling and rich cultural immersion may still find much to enjoy in this novel.

Rating: 4/5

Review author: Chandra Sundeep is an author, blogger, and book reviewer. Her short stories have been featured in various anthologies, online portals, and literary magazines. In 2023, she received the Bharat Award, recognizing her dedication to impactful storytelling. Additionally, she has been a recipient of esteemed awards such as the Asian Literary Society’s Sagar Memorial Award, Wordsmith Award, and Gitesh-Biva Memorial Award in 2021 and 2022.

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