Sharanya Misra

Bhavya. Bee. Strong headed, fiercely Independent and aggressive. On the outside. On the inside though, is another story. On the inside, is a girl struggling with dilemmas, fighting with the demons of the past which have crept up into her present and muddled it to the extent that she can no longer comprehend where her heart lies – in the familiar monotony of her life with her partner thus-far Tenzin, or the new, excitingly breezy and promising future that companionship with Kabir could usher in.

Harshali Singh’s The Anatomy of Choice is a strong read, one that compels you to hate the protagonist for some of her choices, love her for her bold spirit and follow her through her journey as she uncovers the truth of what she truly wants.

The Anatomy of Choice is the second book in Harshali Singh’s 7-book Haveli Series. Bhavya, the second daughter of the Sharma family residing in the magnificently historic haveli Chaand has suddenly returned from Paris where she lives with her partner Tenzin. She bears some deep secrets, consequences of a fantasy in the past, that now threaten to shatter her present. These secrets she refuses to reveal to her large family even as they worryingly look on from a distance, their muted support conveyed in a multitude of concerning gestures.

As Bhavya and the family tip toe around this secret and the delicate thread of Bhavya’s relationship with Tenzin, what beautifully emerges is the strong bond the family shares underneath all the anger and animosity on the surface.

Misunderstandings from the past with Aruna dissipate, both Arun and his daughter increasingly realise how similar they are, Uma’s foresightedness and open thinking prove to be the pillars of strength for her daughter and siblings Dheeraj and Etti help her sail through her ordeal in their own ways. In a way, it’s not just a story of Bhavya rediscovering herself, but also her place in the family.

But what truly helps this modern day fiercely independent girl find her way is the story of Noorie, a courtesan from centuries ago, whose onyx mausoleum lies on the outskirts of the Haveli. The Chaand Raat to its Chaand. Skirting through Noorie’s journal, Bhavya begins to project herself into the life and struggles of this beautiful lady of the yore whose overpowering love for the man she gave her heart to consumed her. Drawing comparisons, Bhavya must now decide what she must take away from Noorie’s life and make her own choices.

Harshali Singh’s The Anatomy of Choice was a surprisingly wonderful read. Surprising because I had not read her first book A Window to Her Dreams, so wasn’t really sure of what to expect. The story is an incredible mix of a good strong plot even while beautifully showcasing the vulnerability of raw human emotions. But what truly impressed me was the author’s beautifully nuanced language across the pages. The writing is mature and engaging and the carefully chosen titles for the chapters, words from various languages symbolising complex emotions along with their meanings, speak ounces of the meticulousness the author has invested in the book. Finally, this book isn’t about a love affair, or a love triangle or even if whether or not women can really make choices. Nor does it boast of a heroic protagonist who has everything sorted in life.

To me, this book is about a real modern woman of today, complete with all her shortcomings – flawed, confused, striving to live life on her terms, and sometimes being impossibly unreasonable in the process – yet stubbornly exercising her right to make her choices and owning them unapologetically.

Do read!

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