Happily Ever and Never Afters

Penmancy posted under Book Review on 2024-06-06

One Line Review- Stories that touch your soul and resonate with the beauty and pain of human experience.

Vidya Sanath’s fictional debut, ‘Happily Ever and Never Afters—A Potpourri of Heartwarming Tales’ is a collection of sixteen short stories that delve into the multifaceted experiences of life, exploring themes of love, loss, and resilience. This anthology stands out not only for its engaging storytelling but also for its courageous attempt to tackle various social taboos prevalent in Indian society.

The novel is an attempt to break down the barriers surrounding subjects like adoption, the stigma attached to widows, abuse, grief, empty nest syndrome, IVF, heartbreak, and the often-overlooked lives of bar dancers and nude pose artists. Through this book, Vidya provides a fresh perspective on these topics, urging readers to question societal norms and embrace a more compassionate and understanding viewpoint.

The narrative is both engaging and enlightening. Each story presents a unique set of characters wrapped in distinctive circumstances, making the anthology a captivating read from start to finish. The characters are well-developed, particularly the women who lead ordinary lives but make extraordinary choices. These choices and the paths they choose form the crux of the narratives, highlighting the strength and resilience inherent in everyday life.

This slice-of-life approach makes the stories deeply relatable and emotionally resonant. The simplicity of the language and the slow pace of the narratives allow readers to fully immerse themselves in the world Vidya has created.

Despite the varied themes and journeys, a fine thread connects all the stories, adding depth to the anthology. The recurring motif of women navigating life’s complexities—whether it’s a widow challenging societal norms in ‘Sorry, I Touched Her’, a woman refusing to play second fiddle in ‘A Befitting Reply’, a career woman balancing work and family in ‘Delicate Tassels’, or a non-stereotypical stepmother in ‘The Justification’—is both empowering and inspiring.

While Happily Ever and Never Afters excels in many areas, it is not without its minor flaws. Some readers might find the slow pace of the narratives challenging, particularly if they prefer faster-paced stories. Certain stories (‘The Second Suitcase’ and ‘Tere Sang Ek Simple Si Coffee’ may come across as predictable, which can reduce the overall impact of these narratives. However, these are minor speed-bumps in an otherwise excellent collection.

This anthology is not just a collection of stories but also a powerful commentary on the importance of understanding and addressing social issues. By shedding light on topics that are often brushed under the carpet, Vidya encourages readers to reflect on their own prejudices and biases. The stories underscore the significance of empathy and compassion in overcoming societal barriers and building a more inclusive and understanding world.

Happily Ever and Never Afters—A Potpourri of Heartwarming Tales is a must-read for anyone who enjoys short stories and values the exploration of social issues through literature. Vidya Sanath’s ability to craft engaging, emotionally rich, and thought-provoking narratives makes this anthology a standout. The collection offers a perfect blend of joy and sorrow, making it a deeply satisfying and enriching read.

Overall, Happily Ever and Never Afters is an exquisite collection of short stories that captures the essence of life’s joys and sorrows. Highly recommended for readers who appreciate reflective and deeply moving stories.