Out With Lanterns – Book Review

“I am out with lanterns, looking for myself.”

~Emily Dickinson


Title – Out With Lanterns

Author – Alisha Kripalani

Genre – Fiction

This book had released in December last year and I had been looking forward to reading it – had heard good reviews and the cover was striking. But it left me with mixed feelings at the end. The premise was brilliant – a wannabe writer gets in touch with an accomplished author, asking him to mentor her – a treat for any reader/bibliophile when entire discussions center around books, authors and quotes.

Karin is an almost-fifty, married-since-two-decades, mother of two. She has always dreamed of writing a book but never got around to it, having focused on marriage and family instead. Aksh is a thirty-something, who struck gold right from his first novel. Karin connects with Aksh at one of the latter’s book signing events at a bookstore, and decides to write to him, not sure if he would remember her or not. Turns out the author does remember the fans whose books he signs, and acknowledges her email. The rest of their conversations flow back and forth as emails and text messages to each other. The entire “bookish” exchange is delightful – discussing their favorite books and authors, sharing memorable quotes as they describe their daily lives, talking about the writer’s life. There are side stories featuring Karin’s husband and their children, and Aksh’s fiancée and his parents. These characters are critical to the plot because they steer it away from turning too clichéd.

I was reading this on kindle, and till about 77%, the book progressed smoothly – the characters were introduced and well sketched out, scenarios were built nicely, and conversations were described well. I was even recommending it to people as I went along. The last bit just fell flat – leading me to scroll back to check if I accidentally swiped something, or skipped pages, or mistakenly clicked on another book. There was a mention of “birthdays” celebrated – yes, plural – and the story just took off like it was the next day (One would assume birthday are celebrated annually). And there was no story whatsoever beyond that point – just characters hastily stitched together. A rabbit showed up somewhere that had nothing to do with what was happening. (Yes, an actual rabbit, that was eliminated in the very same chapter that introduced him). Also, one of the primary characters is a writer. The reader understands his hold on the written language would be more polished. But every character in the book (parents, spouses, children, friends) speaks the same way. This came across as the author (of the original book, Kripalani) showing off her own prowess in English, without really paying attention to character details.

To summarize, this felt like a good premise that tried too hard to please, and lost the plot. Read if you want to develop good English skills; there’s plenty of vocabulary on offer here.

Rating – 3/5


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