‘Skeins’ by Richa Gupta is an interesting novel about sixteen women that take a trip to two European countries. The novel is more about staying together, developing bonding in the conducive environment, expressing secrets and regrets, and understanding each other’s concerns.
Except some, most of the women are unknown to each other. Thus, the trip acts as a trigger for bringing them together, possibly for lifetime.
As I began spending time with the novel, my only concern was, too, many characters. The story is not about one or two women. It’s a group of women. So to better understand this novel, you may need to make a list of all characters. Don’t worry! I will take you through them briefly.
- Kakoli Desai – she is the tour guide. Like other women in the group, she too expresses her sad story, later on some women encourage her to find a life partner while on the trip. Will she get one?
- Rehana – from Delhi, her husband has an extramarital affair with a young lady. What shocks and truth await her when she returns from the trip?
- Harry – she is into restaurant business from Delhi, happy with husband and kids. Will she get some good recipe ideas from the trip?
- Paddy – she is a famous writer settled in Delhi, always in search of more intense stories. Will she get a good story from the trip?
- Sandra – a beautiful lady, she is a mistress of one rich guy in Mumbai. She is also involved in a smuggling racket. What would be her fate upon returning India?
- Damini – she is into jewelry and diamond business. Can she help Sandra to overcome her financial adversity?
- Rashmi – rich, carefree, and laced with singing talent. Can she be a famous singer post the trip?
- Cathy – an HR professional with dull past, middle-class grooming, and single. Will she see some light that can enlighten her heart?
- Varsha – returned from Canada after a failed marriage, lives with her old mother Anvita. Will she get a life partner again?
- Anvita – the caring mother of Varsha!
- Vidya – she is from Chennai, married and has two kids, lives in a joint family where she is treated like a slave. Can she fight for her identity and protect her children from a not-so-caring husband?
- Leena – an old lady. Once she had a flourishing business, now worried about her daughter who is going abroad for a job. Can she pursued her daughter for not leaving her?
- Deepti – her husband suffering from Alzheimer…she is extremely worried for him during the trip. Will he recover under her care when she returns home?
- Naina – she is an old lady from Delhi and misses her past trips to Europe when she came with her husband. Will she be able to come back again with her husband?
- Rupa – an old lady from Dubai, extremely lonely after the demise of her husband. Can she live happily with her two sons settled in different countries?
- Kritika – an investment banker from Mumbai, highly successful but unmarried at 45. She has a long story in the novel, first with the smuggling racket, and then she meets Rehan Bose for a marriage purpose. Will she be successful in personal life as well?
From the list, there are some women who have more share of the story in the novel, and at one point of time they overwhelm the plot. For instance, Kritika is linked to Vidya’s secretive meeting with Prabha aunt in Chennai, and then into smuggling racket, and then she confronts Sandra in Mumbai for her involvement.
Next, Sandra’s heartbroken status was overdone during the trip. On the other hand, Rashmi totally overshadows her childhood friend Cathy. I strongly felt there was less coverage for old ladies like Leena, Naina, Deepti, and Rupa. However, the same goes for Harry and Paddy. In the end, Vidya’s sudden urge to revolt against her husband was interesting, but at the same also painful to see her submitting back to her daily insipid life.
The novel holds multi-narration, it sounds like a collection of women stories. Its intensity can be felt collectively. It makes up for a warm read. It’s a one good book that allows us to peek into the lives of others whom we do not cross or meet in every day life. But they may be around our homes and offices and we are oblivion to their concerns.
I think I have given too much about the story in the review. Hence, I conclude it by saying that I liked the novel and will look forward to read the author’s next book.